Lala The Shopping Penguin

Everyday Lala, the King penguin, has a shower, puts on his backpack and waddles the 329 steps to the local fish monger to buy his ration of five fish. He swallows a whole mackerel or two and then carries the rest home in his mini backpack. Only mackerel or sardines will do for this king!

I came across this amazing video about Lala the shopping penguin and HAD to find out the scoop on this little guy! See his fascinating story below the video!

“Lala is like my firstborn son” says Yukio Nishimoto, a construction manager living in Shibushi, in southern Japan with his a wife and two daughters. So how did a penguin end up living in a home in a country where whaling and selling turtle shell and ivory are still legal?

It all started more than ten years prior to the video (circa RealTV Oct/96) when Yukio Nishimoto said he admired a stuffed penguin belonging to fisherman friend. Later, when the fisherman went fishing for tuna off Australia and South Africa he discovered a penguin caught in his net with a badly injured beak and wing. The fisherman knew the penguin would die or be eaten by sharks it was thrown back into the water so he kept it aboard, tied around the ankle with wire except at feeding time.

Three months later the ship arrived back in Shibushi when Yukio received a call “My friend said ‘If the penguin dies, you can stuff it.’ He said he would not do it.” Yukio said okay but little by little Lala won his heart.

King Penguin

Yukio bought books on penguins and built a refrigerated room under the stairs of their house for him. He even gave Lala a mirror when he thought Lala was lonely. Lala recovered and when he was strong enough Yukio trained him to walk the few blocks to the fish market for his daily fish ration.

“Cars stopped and people began to talk about it. Film crews even came from Australia.” Yukio declined offers of money even though Lala’s fish bill amounted to roughly 100,000 yen or $830 a year.

At the time of this video Lala had mold in his lungs and at 14 years old was considered middle-aged – King penguins live on average 30 years. Yukio was worried Lala would not survive but said “If he dies, I will not stuff him. I’ll bury him here in the neighbourhood. I could not bear to see Lala stuffed. We are proud to be Lala’s parents. Except once or twice during mating season when he wanted to mate with me.”

Unfortunately, I don’t know whatever became of Lala.

4 comments

  1. That is the most amazing thing I have seen in a long time! How could anyone not love Lala. I know I will be thinking about this video all day, she’s just incredible. So affection and so smart. Wow, good video Donna. Keep it up. xo

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