Mixed Meters is surprised to find himself once again documenting the ascendance of a new cute and cuddly animal into the pantheon of Christmas zoology.
A few years ago I noticed for the first time that penguins were being used as Christmas ornaments. I'd never seen that before. This year I found new examples. (Click on them to enlarge.)
This subject has come up before:
2006 (in which I ask how the Los Angeles Zoo put penguins into the wrong hemisphere)
2007 (which also deals with Halloween snowmen and frankengrapes)
2008 (where you can watch a video of 49 microwave ovens playing Jingle Bells)
2009 (one lonely picture: the Christmas penguin which adorns my desk year round)
Many more pictures can be found on my Flickr Christmas penguin page.
The animals most associated with the Christmas story ought to be camels, donkeys, sheep, goats and wise men. All of those are on the Chistmas endangered species list. Especially wise men.
Instead, most decorations include very different animals - Santas, reindeer and sometimes polar bears. All of these are reminders of the north pole, suitable for a solstice celebration.
Penguins remind us of cold weather in a pleasant way, but they do not come from the northern hemisphere. No one seems to be bothered by this. I wonder how many people assume that penguins and polar bears actually do live together in the wild because they now see so many penguins at Christmas time.
Snowmen, of course, are common Christmas animals as well. I suppose you can find snowmen in either hemisphere - but never in the wild.
Our friend Vasily Radashevsky asked me recently "Would a polar bear eat a penguin?" A trick question. The answer is "probably, if it had the chance." The chance is remote. One of them would have had to travel almost half way round the world first. Or maybe they both escaped from the same zoo on the same night.
To be fair, none of this years pictures show penguins with igloos, or standing at the north pole or meeting polar bears over soft drinks. Maybe the fad is passing.
Even so, when I see a Christmas penguin, I sill can't stop myself from snapping a picture. When Leslie sees one she always points it out to me. I wonder if there are any Christmas songs about penguins yet.
This year's LA Philharmonic online holiday greeting features penguins, Petroushka, snow in downtown Los Angeles and a new aisle in the center of Disney concert hall.
And here's visual proof that tiny polar bears and line dancing penguins can love one another if they have sugar water and Beach Boys.
Cute and Cuddly Tags: Christmas Penguin. . . Christmas Zoology. . . Christmas decorations