Tickling a penguin

Penguins, like kittehs, like tummy rubs.  If you don’t get a frisson of pleasure from this video, you’re at the wrong website. It’s Cookie, a baby fairy penguin (Eudyptula minor) at the Cincinnati Zoo, who is being treated for a foot ailment (note the “sock” on her foot).

More information is here.


  1. Matthew Cobb
    Posted January 2, 2012 at 9:43 am | Permalink

    Hmm. Don’t wish to play the hard-nose, but it looks to me like Cookie simply wants to be fed…

    • Jim Balter
      Posted January 3, 2012 at 1:27 am | Permalink

      Don’t flatter yourself … your poor perception is not a virtue, certainly not the virtue of realism.

  2. Posted January 2, 2012 at 10:11 am | Permalink

    BUT… But… but… I thought there weren’t any such things as fairies…!

  3. Woof
    Posted January 2, 2012 at 10:19 am | Permalink

    “Tickling a penguin” sounds like a euphemism for something… interesting.

  4. AbnormalWrench
    Posted January 2, 2012 at 10:30 am | Permalink

    I have seen that video several times, and I still think he was trying to mate with the hand, or some other instinct driven action. The “giggle”, if that is what you want to call it, started before contact.

    • P
      Posted January 2, 2012 at 10:40 am | Permalink

      Agreed. The sound it made suggested something else to me too. I wonder if it was just playing and responding to the snapping hand movements. Reminds me of when puppies play fight each other and bark at each other. Kind of just seems like the spirit of the thing to do.

    • Scote
      Posted January 2, 2012 at 10:53 am | Permalink

      I expect there are a lot of pet behaviors that we anthropomorphize. What are kitty cheek rubs? Purring? (Which both content and very stressed cats do). Kneading? Burying their food?

      All of those cute kitty behaviors have cat reasons behind them that don’t necessarily correspond with our human interpretations.

      • Gregory Kusnick
        Posted January 2, 2012 at 12:44 pm | Permalink

        But by the same token, the (evolutionary) reasons behind those behaviors don’t necessarily correspond to what the cat actually feels when performing them.

        For instance, it’s well known that cats have scent glands in their cheeks for marking territory. Does that mean that every cheek rub corresponds to a conscious intention to mark territory? No, it does not. It just means the cat got an urge for a cheek rub and felt good on satisfying that urge. So the apparent pleasure of a cheek rub may in fact be genuine, despite its utilitarian evolutionary roots.

        • Scote
          Posted January 2, 2012 at 1:42 pm | Permalink

          A friend of mine summarized cat behavior for me. I asked her why cats rub their cheeks against you. “Because it feels good.” While their may be deeper analysis available that seems to sum it up pretty well.

      • Jim Balter
        Posted January 3, 2012 at 1:37 am | Permalink

        “What [is] Purring?”

        See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Purr#Reasons

    • Notagod
      Posted January 2, 2012 at 10:47 pm | Permalink

      Human children start giggling in anticipation of being tickled.

    • Jim Balter
      Posted January 3, 2012 at 1:32 am | Permalink

      Your comment about “instinct driven” appears to reflect an older view of low cognitive level among birds that has been contradicted by recent evidence.

      • AbnormalWrench
        Posted January 3, 2012 at 8:55 pm | Permalink

        I’m simply saying, it is being unnecessarily anthropomorphized, something that Coyne has taken people to task before (chimps showing signs of anguish over a death). This seems far more questionable than the chimp example.

  5. S A GOULD
    Posted January 2, 2012 at 11:17 am | Permalink

    For all you “tickle-doubters” out there, contact the lady who did the video, Patricia Sund at ParrotNation.com.

    She does know the difference between mating and tickling. Really.

  6. TrineBM
    Posted January 2, 2012 at 2:39 pm | Permalink

    That is unbearably cute! The flapping wings especially. Just awwwwwww!

    • Diane G.
      Posted January 2, 2012 at 10:09 pm | Permalink

      And the tail wagging!

      • Posted March 16, 2012 at 10:39 pm | Permalink

        Agreed! 😀 That was exactly what I was gonna post as a separate comment until I saw yours!

  7. Posted January 2, 2012 at 2:53 pm | Permalink

    Tiny nitpick on the post: the penguin is described in the video as male, not female.

  8. Posted January 2, 2012 at 3:40 pm | Permalink

    Heh, I make similar noises when my tummy gets rubbed.

    Too much information?

  9. sciencehellyeah
    Posted January 2, 2012 at 4:55 pm | Permalink

    My life is slightly richer now for seeing that video.

  10. Posted January 3, 2012 at 5:43 am | Permalink

    Tickling and worth commenting.

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