PB 7

You’d be hard-pressed to find someone who doesn’t like penguins. Between their flightless wings and pudgy physique, there’s something inherently funny about them, which is juxtaposed and amplified by the way they look like they’re constantly dressed in formal tuxedos.

But perhaps the most comical thing of all about the monochrome birds is the stubborn dignity they show by standing at silent attention, even when surrounded by onlookers at a zoo.

Unless, that is, there’s a butterfly to chase.

Nagoya’s Higashiyama Zoo is home to several species of penguins. Like at Ueno Zoo in Tokyo, Higashiyama Zoo has an open-air enclosure for the birds. This always strikes me as a strange choice in Japan, where the summertime heat and humidity is far beyond what these penguins would encounter in their natural habitat.

The design of Higashiyama Zoo’s penguin exhibit does allow more people to see the birds at once, however. As a matter of fact, the display area is so open that in addition to the human visitors, a butterfly decided to stop by recently, revealing a crack in the stoic demeanor we’ve come to associate with penguins.

In the video, a lone butterfly flutters into the enclosure. When you hail from the Antarctic, being cool is just a way of life, and the majority of the penguins react as we’d expect them to do, by doing absolutely nothing.

Except, that is, for a pair of Rockhopper penguins. As the name implies, Rockhoppers are more accustomed to moving about on land than the other members of the penguin family, and will bounce over and around obstacles, unlike their less-agile brethren who prefer to slide about on their smooth, adorable bellies.

PB 1

Once the butterfly appears, the two Rockhoppers go nuts, making it their mission in life to catch the gossamer interloper. Of course, being fast for a penguin still doesn’t put you in the same speed class as a butterfly, and a chase around the penguin pen ensues.

But while this is clearly the highlight of the Rockhoppers’ day, the rest of the penguins remain literally unmoved.

▼ “Pshaw!” this King pengun seems to say.

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As the Rockhoppers pass by the unimpressed King, they momentarily bow their heads. After going through the motions of their half-hearted apology, though, the chase resumes.

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▼ The king penguin doesn’t appear to be wearing his monocle, which we deduce he must have dropped after being shocked by this most unorthodox behavior.

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The Rockhoppers never manage to grab hold of their prey, and honestly we’re a little relieved. First, we don’t know what they would have done with the butterfly had they caught it. And second, maybe this means it’ll come back to play again.

Sources: Byokan Sunday, YouTube