(note that the word “jandal” refers to a sandal with a band between the big toe and other toes)
New Zealand is charmed with a number of charismatic birds, the most well known being the Kiwi, with it’s long beak, flightless feathers, and nocturnal habits. However, another adorable avian is the little blue penguin. Of all penguins this one is the smallest. Standing at just 25cms, and with a weight similar to a bag of sugar, this penguin is slate blue with a white belly, and has pink webbed feet. These large and prominent feet are essential for steering at sea while fishing, but look a bit odd when waddling on land when the birds head back to their burrows at night.
But, I’m not here to give you a natural history of blue penguins. No, what I wanted to do was tell you about one particular blue penguin, one with exceptionally large and ungainly feet; his name is Flip-Flop!
Flip-Flop is your typical young Penguin. He enjoys the company of his penguin friends, and loves to spend as much time as possible in the sea, swimming and eating fish. He’s average height and weight, with one distinguishing feature: he has extremely big feet. Now, most penguins’ feet are big compared to their shanks, but their belly protrudes further than their feet, but Flip-Flop, by contrast, has feet that stick out further than his tummy. Fortunately, penguins don’t wear shoes, so he doesn’t have the trouble of finding extra large sized shoes to fit him. However, his big feet do lead to problems. Perhaps you’ve had the experience when wearing jandals (or Flip-Fops as the British call them), where you’ve stubbed the tip of the jandal, and it’s bent underneath the sole, and tripped you up. I know it’s happened to me, but maybe I’m terribly clumsy! Well, like myself, Flip-Flop has the same problem with his feet. If he’s not careful, and he forgets to walk slowly and carefully, oops, over he falls.
This very thing happened to him last night when his parcel of penguins headed off to the beach. I should point out that when I say “parcel”, I mean that this is the word for a group of penguins. It is of course animal cruelty to put penguins in a parcel, and I wouldn’t want you to misunderstand me! So, they headed out from their burrows and crossed the fields and hills to the shore. This walk involves uneven grass, with many troughs and furrows, so when walking in the dark it is especially important to mind ones step. Flip-Flop was indeed taking his time, while his penguin friends waddled ahead. Although it’s dark and hard to see, they all keep contact with each other through a series of special barks. But the further they went, the further Flip-Flop was getting behind, and the more distant the sound of his chums calls. Getting a little alarmed that he was going to be left alone, he quickened his waddle, and, oh dear, the inevitable happened, and his big feet caught him up. First he flipped, and then he flopped. Flopped straight into a deep furrow. He became worried that he wouldn’t be able to climb out. Worse, he worried his fellow penguins wouldn’t hear his cries for help. So, what do you think happened? Well, just like our own friends, Flip-Flop’s friends knew him very well. They knew his accident proneness, and had made sure not to go off to far ahead. In no time at all they were there to help him up, give him a hug, and make sure he got to the sea. Once in the water, Flip-Flop forgot all about his fall, and spent a good few hours showing everyone what a fast and beautiful swimmer he is. Much fun was had, many fish were eaten, and everyone had a lovely time.
© Rowan Taw, 2012 ©Karma Dechen Lhamo, 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Rowan Taw and/or Karma Dechen Lhamo with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.