Christmas came and went, as it does, and very quickly, as it ALSO does, and faster and faster each year. But, lucky woman that I am, I got to open one of my Christmas presents early.
I came home from work one evening, exhausted and stinking of puppies (which is pretty standard these days), and trying to work up the energy to go to my work Christmas party (which wasn't too difficult, it's just that I need to work up energy for any kind of extended social interaction where small talk might be expected), when I noticed a card sticking out of my Christmas stocking.
Inside were two tickets to Newport Aquarium's Penguin Encounter. See:
|Craziest eyes to have ever crazy eyed.|
My response to opening this gift was something like, "What? What? What does this mean? Does this mean...oh my god...oh my god...what does this mean? Does this really mean we get to meet penguins? Like meet meet them? Like shake hands?" for, oh, about half an hour? And then for the rest of the week? JOE IS SO LUCKY.
It was awesome, you guys. The encounter itself lasts only about twenty minutes, which passes far too quickly, but it's great. I'd go again. Like, SO MANY TIMES AGAIN. I'd pay five times as much if it meant I could spend twice as much time with the penguins. I briefly considered asking for a job application once it was over. I mean, how different are penguins from dogs really?
When you arrive at the penguin encounter, a penguin handler makes you wait five minutes while he or she tells you about how you can't pick up the penguins and cuddle them like little babies unless you don't have a particular fondness for your eyeballs anymore. (Still. It's tempting.)
After the liability spiel, you're finally allowed in the room with the penguins. When we went, there were about eight penguins roaming about the room. You mostly just sit in one place and have to wait for the penguins to approach, which is difficult. I really wanted to get up and waddle around with them but I don't think that's allowed.
The handler picks up various penguins and you're allowed to, like, pet them on the back and wings. They're so soft! I wasn't expecting that. And they sometimes make sounds like braying donkeys. Definitely was not expecting that, either. Anyway. Here are some pictures of penguins. That's what you're here for, right?
|HELLO I AM A PENGUIN.|
|I named this one Donkey because she made donkey noises. CREATIVITY.|
|Blueberry tried to steal my umbrella. I guess cause it was blue.|
Newport Aquarium opened in 1999. It's open every day (except major holidays), there are five penguin encounters daily, and each encounter has a limit of 12 people. Assuming the penguin encounters started when Newport Aquarium opened, over 300,000 people have taken this tour. It's fairly easy to buy a ticket. It's not all that expensive. Anyone could do it. But I don't care. It still feels special. Like, I touched a penguin! Who cares if so many other people have done the same? Extraordinary experiences don't become any less extraordinary just because others have experienced them.
I'm not sure when my obsession with penguins began. It was probably always there, along with my obsession with, oh, all other animals. I know seeing this video a million years ago definitely didn't help:
And this latest penguin encounter has only strengthened my resolve to have my own pet penguin someday. I'LL SPARE NO EXPENSE.