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And the winner is....

It’s official – this year’s cutest, very best penguin is… Draco.

At 12 years old, the winner of the 2019 popularity contest is one of the National Aquarium of New Zealand’s oldest penguins.

Draco was hit by a car while crossing the road, and was left with a permanent head injury. She is known to be very friendly, often visiting other penguins in their burrows. She & Timmy are a couple, and she received Good Penguin of the Month recently for taking care of Burny’s egg, which Burny had left in her burrow, and also sticking up for Timmy when Tux tried to push him off the pier.

Draco received a total of 2793 votes, while the remaining 2617 were split between Mo and Elmo in a very close race for second and third, with only 5 votes separating the two.

Including the votes cast to select the finalists (7400), votes in the 2019 Penguin of the Year competition reached more than 12,000 setting a new record. Votes came in from all over the world, including Iceland, Estonia, Israel, Germany, Poland, Chile, England, Brazil and Australia, with the most international votes coming from the United States.

There have also been several video messages of support for Draco from Kiwi actor Jonno Roberts, which he posted on his Instagram account. Jonno is currently playing the character Draco in the Harry Potter production on Broadway in New York. One of these videos also featured the renowned comedian Rhys Darby showing his support for Draco as well.

The team are expecting Draco to take this new title and extra attention all in her stride. Many think Draco and Timmy could be the new power couple at the National Aquarium.

The biggest percentage of voters in the first stage came from the US, Australia and NZ, in that order. We can reveal now that Draco clearly led the voting from the beginning, receiving more than 1500 votes in the first stage.

The whole Little Penguin crew at the National Aquarium are held in high esteem by visitors, and their popularity has continued to grow since Penguin of the Month began in June 2017.

All of the Little Penguins are at the National Aquarium because they need help from the specialist staff. They arrived as abandoned chicks, have been injured in dog attacks, are partially sighted, or have become sick in the wild. Some are missing flippers due to getting caught in fishing nylon.

The facility is a rehabilitation centre for most of the birds, sending them back out into the wild when they are recovered and ready. Some penguins are unfortunately not strong enough to return to their natural habitats, so they find a permanent home there.

29 January 2020

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