The Daredevil Penguin: Who Is the Great Penguini?

In the southern hemisphere, there is a legend of a daredevil penguin who would perform great feats of daring. Some people claim to have seen him in action. Others say he stole their equipment. But none of them know the truth. First, those that claimed the penguin was a “he” never did a blood test, so the penguin’s sex remained unknown. Second, most of the feats of the Great Penguini are not the actions of a single penguin, but the actions of several penguins who learned from an early teacher and built on his/her legacy. This is the first feat accomplished by the Great Penguini.

Phenix stood on the ice-covered mound looking down at the ocean. The surface looked relatively calm as small wavelets lapped at the ice-land that formed the penguins’ home shores. The sun shone, and the day was warmer than many that came before. Ice that had formed long ago and floated on the sea moved up and down with the easy rhythm of a beautiful day.

Just below the surface of the water, he/she could see dark shapes swimming. Ordinarily, the orcas’ coloring would keep them hidden from the penguin’s gaze, but the water was clear, and the sun penetrated the shallows where the Orcas were uncharacteristically swimming.

There was a loud crack in the ice, and a piece broke off to become a floe. The orcas turned as one and swam with speed to the floe. As it separated from the land, Phenix could see other penguins rushing across the flow and jumping the water. He/she could also see the orcas pushing the floe out to sea faster than it would have floated on its own. Penguins leapt until the distance became too great. Two smaller penguins were stranded on the floe. They would be easy prey once they got in the water.

The orcas stuck there heads up from the water and looked at the floe. They dove back down. Phenix was sure they had seen the trapped penguins. He/she would have to get their attention. Phenix walked along the ridge and rolled a snow ball. He/she let out a loud squawk, and then another and another.

The two trapped penguins looked up at the snow ridge. Phenix waved and then signed to them. He/she would jump to their floe. They would need to swim through the water and back to shore as quickly as they could. Phenix hoped they understood as he/she set the snowball free. The snow ball rolled down the hill gaining speed and size. It would have to be good enough to distract the orcas and alert them that something else was coming.

Phenix set off. As the penguin hurtled towards the shore, he/she watched for the rising heads of the orcas. When he/she saw them come out of the water, he/she made the loudest squawk he/she could. The orcas came up again, and Phenix could tell they were watching him. He/she swerved to the left to excite their predatory instinct and swerved to the right. Slaloming down the hill, Phenix wanted the orcas focused on him/her. As Phenix got closer to the split between the ices, he/she saw exactly what he/she needed to complete this mission. A ridge that would provide a lift for the most dangerous part of the trip.

Phenix aimed at the ridge; the orcas disappeared from view. SQUAWK! Phenix hit the ridge. The two trapped penguins slipped into the water and sped toward the safe ice on the other side. Phenix hurled into the air. The dark shapes underneath the penguin grew larger and larger. The snapping jaws of the first orca missed Phenix’ tail. The second orca had misjudged the penguin’s flight and leapt over the speedy bird. The third orca’s jaws opened wide over Phenix. As they snapped shut, Phenix tucked into a mid-air roll narrowly avoiding becoming a snack for the orca.

Phenix landed on the ice floe safely. The splash from the third orca covered the penguin in salty sea water. He/she looked to the shore and saw the smaller penguins had made it safely across. Now, they waved and had worried faces. How would Phenix get back to safety?

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The Great Penguini was inspired in part by this daredevil penguin.