They may have already been dressed to the nines for the festive occasion, but did two possibly unsuspecting penguins truly understand what they were getting themselves into? Officials from the Ocean Aquarium in Shanghai, China say “yes.”
I’m not so sure.
According to zoo employees, Humboldt penguins Xiaobai and Xiaoxue have been “hopelessly” in love for quite some time. So enamored are the two with one another, in fact, that the zoo held a special wedding ceremony so the penguins have a legitimate excuse to neck in public instead of secretively behind boulders within their display.
Not even a penguin can be a harlot forever. Plus, it was really starting to freak out the children.
I’ve sat down with the two lovebirds to get to the heart of the matter.
Q. What was your reaction when you heard there was to be a wedding in your near future?
Xiaobai: “We were quite humboldt to hear the news, ourselves! As birds, we’re not capable of actually feeling human emotions, of course. Instincts are essential in the animal kingdom, but I’ll admit I didn’t see this coming!”
(suddenly fascinated with herself) “Hey, I didn’t even know I could talk until just now! Do you have a mirror so I can see how I look when I speak?”
Q. No, you’ll get narcissistic and we need to sort out your feelings for Xiaoxue first. So, what really happened that day behind the rocks?
Xiaoxue: “You see, we’ve always had a rocky relationship…”
Xiaoxue: “She digs my humor as much as she digs our guano nests.”
Xiaobai: “Yeah. Obligatorily.”
Xiaoxue: “Anyway, it’s rocky, and not just because of our habitat. Our parents don’t approve, you see. We have to sneak off in secret to be with another.”
Q. But you all look exactly the same.
Xiaoxue: “We’re penguins…”
Q. Yeah, but you could have just pretended to be different penguins. Or hid behind a bunch of penguins. Wouldn’t be able to tell a difference.
Xiaobai: “Our brains are the size of walnuts.”
Q. Granted. So you’re like the Romeo and Juliet of your time?
Xiaoxue: “Romeo and Who-liet?
Xiaobai. “I think they were lovers forbidden to be together due to family conflict.”
Xiaoxue: “Look, if I could give my family the bird, I would. But with these things?” Waves wings simultaneously in front of him, quite clumsily and adorably. “Impossible! As if being a bird incapable of flight wasn’t bad enough…”
Xiaobai: “You’re pretty fly to me!”
Xiaoxue: “And that’s why we leave the jokes to me.” Turns and whispers conspiratorially, “Chicks…”
Xiaobai: “What’d you just call me?!”
Xiaoxue: “I meant to say, ‘Birds…’”
Xiaobai: “Bird is the (right) word.”
Xiaoxue (looking down and shaking head in shame): “I’m a bird incapable of giving someone the bird…”
Q. The moment has passed, lil buddy. So, what was going on in your head when you were put inside the love bug?
Xiaoxue: “First of all, don’t call it that – it’s weird. Secondly, animals should not be allowed to drive. Xiaobai didn’t even have her eyes on the road half the time!”
Xiaobai (chuckling): “I sure didn’t.”
Q. Great turnout though! And you had your own parade!
Xiaoxue: “Didn’t know a single person there. Lifetime captivity and all.”
Xiaobai: “OMG, and did you see the billboard of us in the entryway? My beak looks HUGE! I’m mortified! And what were those two people in penguin costumes all about? I can only imagine the nightmares I’ll have tonight.”
Xiaoxue: “They were dressed as Emperor penguins. Yeah, right! I’d like to see a human travel 50 plus miles to feed their young.”
Q. I’m not debating that it’s a struggle for the Emperor penguins. But you’ve never had to shop for food at a Wal-Mart. Chef-Boyardee doesn’t just appear in cabinets.
Xiaobai: “This is why we’re endangered.”
Q. So what did you think of the ceremony?
Xiaoxue: “It didn’t go down exactly the way we had envisioned.” Rolling his eyes. “Give the humans a show and all that. And although we enjoyed the symbolism of the wreaths, I’m sure we would have definitely gotten choked up if they had given us rings.”
Xiaobai: “Got that right. Although the wedding in itself was a whole new definition of animal cruelty.”
Q: Well, your family may be dismayed at this turn of events, but at least you were finally able to seal the deal.
Xiaobai: “Oh, God no! There were no seals present. That could be suicide.”
Q. I meant, “make it official.” Let’s get back on track. Check out the video of your wedding. It features a zoo visitor named Wang Quoing, who was obviously quite taken with your story. Your thoughts?
Xiaobai: “She thinks this is real…We’re penguins, for cryin’ out loud!”
Xiaoxue: “Hahahaha! And everlasting love. Doesn’t she realize we only live to be 20 years? In human years, that’s like, the experimental stage of relationships.”
Xiaobai: “It’s ok, they’ll have forgotten all about us by tomorrow. I think there’s a monarch butterfly wedding at six.”
Xiaoxue: “Damn butterflies with their flyin’ wings.”
Q. Ok, let’s close out with one more question for your friends. You guys all looked like you were happy to see these two get hitched. What’s the skinny?
Penguin #1 (shrugging): “Seen worse.”
Penguin #2: “Got in the way of our 2 p.m. swim practice.”
Penguin #3: “Coach made us swim laps.”
Penguin #2: “Good music though.”
Penguins (in unison): “Yeah!”
Penguin #3: “Classicaaaaal!”
Penguin #1: “…I’m more into Bon Jovi, myself.”