Lala was a rescued King Penguin in Japan that became world famous thanks to a mini-documentary made about him in 1996. Since the rise of YouTube and social media, you may have seen clips or memes with a cute penguin wearing a cute penguin backpack strolling around. This is his story.
Way back in 1986, Yukio Mishimoto was a construction manager living in Shibushi, Japan. He had a fisherman friend who would tell him stories of fishing expeditions near the Antarctic and the penguins he saw. Mishimoto used to joke that his friend should bring a penguin back for him. Then one day, the joke became a reality.
Lala, unfortunately, got caught in the friend’s fishing net and injured his wing and beak. The fisherman was to far away from Lala’s home and didn’t want to leave him for the sharks, so he took him back to Japan. Lala then joined Mishimoto, his wife, and two kids.
But Lala isn’t your average couch penguin… He likes to travel!REAL TV, 1996
The penguin healed from his injuries and had bonded with the family and would socialize with them like any beloved pet. Since they lived in the warm south of Japan, the family built him a special room with a powerful air conditioner to make Lala feel at home.
Lala was, of course, a fish connoisseur and preferred them fresh. So the family trained him to visit the local market all by himself to get his daily grub. And as you’d expect, all the people in town loved seeing him. The neighbors even helped Lala deal with the heat by spraying him with a hose when he’d pop by.
While humans mistakenly separated him from his life and family, he made the best of it thanks to the kind humans in his town. Lala passed away in 1998 at 12 years old, and you can see him below in the 1996 documentary.
For another impressive penguin, check out the jet-set life of Chester – penguin and professional actor.