The Memphis Zoo would like to thank each person who participated in our African Penguin Writing Contest. Every story we received was both entertaining and informative.
Below are the names of the overall winners as well as two honorable mentions in each age division. The winner have already been notified. Congrats to all!
K-2Nicholas T. – 2nd Woodland (Overall Winner) "Everyone Can Be A Hero"
Once upon a time there was an African Penguin named
Eli. He was an ordinary penguin, just like the other
Penguins. He was
6 years old. He and
the other penguins were able to drink nice clean water at first . But
everything changed when a big fishing ship came past. All the Penguins were sitting
and sleeping except Eli and a different Penguin. When the penguins woke up they
drank the pollution but Eli drank from a different side where it was clean since
he saw the ship go by. Eli realized that
it was dark on the other side he looked up and saw a oil spill in the water he told
the other penguins to stop but it was to late. Some of his friends died of the
oil spill. He wanted that to never happen again so he told the other Penguins
that it was an oil spill and then he showed them where the clean water still
was. It took Them 2 months to clean up. Eli found a new place to drink with all the
other all penguins. His Dad and Mom were proud of him.
Jeremiah G. – 2nd Tara Oaks (HM)
Once there was a penguin named
Bob. Bob was an African black-footed
Penguin. One day Bob went fishing for food for his family in the ocean. The
water was very cloudy and murky. He had trouble finding fish in the water so he
had to travel deeper. While he was swimming, Bob came across a giant oil spill.
He had trouble swimming because of the oil. He got through the spill but Bob
got really tired. He was covered in oil
and was getting cold. He was far away from home and was scared. Bob had never
had to travel this deep for food before. The oil had killed all of the fish at
the top of the water. He kept swimming trying to find some fish but suddenly he
saw a giant orca. He tried to get away and he found a small cave where he was
able to hide. Bob was lucky he did not get eaten by the orca. He kept swimming
and thought he found some fish to eat. When Bob went to get the fish they were
in a fisherman’s net. Bob ended up in
the net too. The fishermen saw Bob the penguin and freed him from the net. He washed the oil off Bob and then gave him
some fish to eat. The fisherman returned
Bob to the fresh open water so he could swim back to his family.
Bob was lucky to escape the orca
and have fishermen save him. Not all penguins have the opportunity to live.
Pollution is hurting their environment and has caused them to become an
endangered species. Please help me protect these amazing animals. Reese D. – 1st Lausanne (HM) "The African
upon a time there was a penguin named Jameison who couldn’t live with his
family anymore. He went serching for a
home and found lots of danger. First he
saw a boat and swam far away from it but he didn’t see the huge net, but then
he swam away at the last second.
Jameison swam up to get some air.
His heart was beating really fast becouse he was scared. Then he came to a shark and almost went into
a sharks mouth, but he swam a diforent way.
“Pheu!” said Jameison. (He was
very lucky.) After
that Jameison was starving. “I could eat
anything” said Jamesion. Jameison saw a
can and almost ate until…”Stop!” said a jellyfish. “That’s a can not food!” Whoops!” said Jameison. “I can’t believe I almost ate a can!” said
Jameison. So he found some fish and ate
that instead. Jameison swam up to catch
some air. Then he swam and swam and swam
and…he found a home. And guess who came to live with him?
3-5Lainey T. – 5th Westminster (Overall Winner)"Ellah’s
the penguin and her family lived in a small colony in Namibia, Africa. The
whole community was happy and carefree until one dreadful day. Ellah and her
brother, Whitfield, were out diving one afternoon to find pilchards and
anchovies for their family’s dinner that night. Their father, Aaron, had told
them not to go out too deep for fear of seals and orcas. Ellah, unlike her brother, was very curious
and mischievous, which, most times, was not to her advantage. For example, she
had actually once gotten in enough trouble that she had broken part of her beak
me!” she called to Whitfield as she plunged into the sea, “The water’s fine,
fresh, and full of food!” “You
sure this isn’t too deep, Ell?” Whitfield queried hesitantly.
come on, little brother! It’s perfectly okay.” She replied.
then. Here I come!” Whitfield plunged into the Atlantic with newly acquired
Whoosh! ThunkI The sea around them was so dark that it seemed that they could actually
see the sounds they heard. Swish! Whoosh! Thunk! The same sounds seemed closer
now. As they began to dart toward the surface for air, light beamed down and their
predator was revealed. The discarded remnants of an old fishing net floated
throughout the water. They had swum too deep. If they swam up, they would
surely be tangled, but if they swam down, they would risk being devoured by
sharks, seals, and orcas. Because the
risk of being tangled would be greater than that of being eaten, they would
have to brave the danger of the depths. As
they swam down, something above them caught their eye. A baby Cape Fur seal struggled in the net. Should
they rescue a predator, even if it was just a baby? A tough decision was at
hand. After a good bit of thought, they decided to save the seal. How would
they do it though? The task seemed impossible. Suddenly
Ellah remembered the sharp place on her beak. She could saw through the net!
They swam up to the baby seal, hoping it hadn’t developed its hunting instincts
yet, and carefully untangled it. She and Whitfield had successfully freed the
predators’ child, unharmed. Downwards they swam, pulling the seal behind. Because the two penguins saved the young seal, a
peace treaty was established, ending their predator-prey relationship. After
Ellah and Whitfield returned safely home, penguins and seals banned together to
rid their part ocean of pollution and waste.
Penguins and seals now live happily together in Namibia. Connor M.– 5th Farmington (HM)"The Pollution Vacuum" As a youngling, the little penguin had gotten stuck in this weird black stuff.
He had thought it would be fun. He did have fun at first; he was laughing, flapping
his wings, and just enjoying himself. When he thought it would be a good time to
go back, the little penguin got stuck, and he couldn't flap or laugh.
The little penguin was stuck there for about two days. When he finally
thought he would starve to death, a boy about his same age pulled with all his
might and rescued him. After that, the boy would go visit him and all the other
As the boy and the penguin grew up, they started having ideas about what to
do about the black stuff, or as they learned: pollution. They had many ideas to
destroy pollution, but they decided on the Pollution Vacuum, or for short:
The boy, the penguin, and a few friends decided to set up a stand on the
sidewalk and do magic tricks for money. At the end of the month, they had raised
$851.50. Even though they had some money, they still needed more help from
people. The little penguin wanted to help his whole colony.
He gathered all of his colony and roamed the whole city. They talked to
news crews and photographers. Some even walked in front of the court house with
signs that said, "SAVE THE PENGUINS FROM POLLUTION - JOIN THE TEAM!"
After three more weeks of fundraising, the penguins had what they needed:
they had the people, they had the money, and they even had the government on
board! They built the first Pollution Vacuum, and put it to use. Not only did it save
the African Penguin, it saved many of the other animals in the sea!
The government still wanted to help, so they created a 400 foot island 50
feet in the air, holding 600 gallons of water, and protecting the penguins from
pollution and predators. Their population is increasing and every three decades a
new island is raised up for a new colony.
Nora E. – 5th St. Mary’s (HM) "The Dangers of Pollution" My
name is Genevieve. I am an African penguin. I love the ocean. The wet, soft,
rushing feeling of the water is so nice. But it is being polluted by trash and
oil. When I was in the Southern Hemisphere, there were a lot of dangers that
could hurt me. There are sharks and seals that could gobble me up. But I have
my camouflage to protect me. I also have little spots that are in a certain
pattern on my belly that separate me from all of the other penguins. My eyes
are gray, which is unusual because penguins’ eyes turn to brown when they get
older. This is the story of how I became safe in the Memphis Zoo. It
was a regular day in the colony. We were together on the beach and some of my
friends were jumping into the ocean. I decided to go in too. It was a little
darker than usual, but I just decided to go with the flow. I started swimming
and felt as free as a bird. Well I am a bird, so never mind.
saw some of my friends heading back onto the beach so I joined. When I got out,
I was covered in oil! The thick liquid felt terrible on my feathers. Then I
noticed all of my friends were covered in oil too! We all looked out into the
ocean and saw trash floating on the surface of the water. Our home was being
polluted. One of the older penguins named Mundo fell down on the sand and, for
the next day or two, was sick with a deadly illness. A
few days later, some humans found us and got us all cleaned up. They gave Mundo
medicine and he got better. They took us to a place called the Memphis Zoo and
kept us well fed. The
Memphis Zoo tries hard to keep the African penguins alive, but we still need
you come visit today you can see Mundo and me there with our friends and
children, and it’s all thanks to the Memphis Zoo.
6-8Sydney S. – 6th Hutchison (Overall Winner)"Kuen
the Penguin: His Interesting Life" Hi, my
name is Kuen and I am an African penguin. This is my first entry in my new
diary, and I honestly don’t know what to say, so I will tell you a little bit
about myself. I start my days off with a nice piece of French toast topped with
powdered sugar and strawberries. Okay, I’m kidding. For each meal I have
anchovies and sardines which may sound gross, but I have gotten used to it. I
am a staggering two foot tall and handsome penguin that gets all of the ladies.
Even though I can’t fly, figuratively speaking, I am above all of the other
guys of my species. Considering my colors are permanently black and white, I
look quite classy with my tuxedo that never leaves my body. I even have a
beautiful girlfriend named Emily. The two of us are like peas in a pod. She
loves sardines and anchovies too, which helps because that is all I have in my
vicinity. We don’t care about going anywhere fancy on our dates. Just cuddling
up by the fire, watching Happy Feet,
and feeding each other chocolate covered sardines suffices. I haven’t exactly
told her that I loved her yet, and we are long distance since she lives two
miles away from me so are relationship is not flawless. That may seem like a
short distance for people that can drive, walk, and fly but the only
transportation I have available to me is waddling. It may look awkward, and I
do fall quite often, but if it gets me places I am okay. My life isn’t all that
perfect like it may seem. On my daily waddles with Emily, we constantly have to
dodge pollution. I think it’s killing me. Also, my twin brother, Suen keeps
telling me that I have short term memory because of the trash and the way I
fell on it. I don’t know what to do. Well, it is time for my daily waddle with
Emily, so I’ll catch you on the flippity- flop. Okay, that was a horrible pun.
Chase S. – 8th Houston Middle (HM)
A young penguin named Jello went out into the ocean to find his breakfast.
He saw a beautiful tasty fish so Jello started to chase the fish. During the chase, Jello
got stuck inside a strange material. Jello’s vision was very blurry he couldn’t move.
He started to get tired after struggling for hours to free him self. Around sunrise
Jello had lost all hope. Jello began to see a bright white light. He felt an embrace
around his body then he passed out. When Jello woke up he was in a strange place,
he saw strange mammals he had never seen before. He wasn’t stuck anymore he
was free and the strange mammals gave him food. Jello was saved by the strange
mammals and introduced to his new family in his new home. Every morning the
mammals would bring them fish. More mammals would come throughout the day
and watch them swim around.
One night Jello saw the strange mammals carrying a penguin he knew. It was
his older brother Polo. Polo was covered beak to foot in a strange black liquid. When
Jello smelled the liquid it smelled like the liquid that made his vision blurry that
scary day. The mammals started washing him off with water and a liquid that causes
bubbles. Polo woke up and began to understand what was going on.
When Polo and Jello first saw each other they were very happy. Jello was
scared because he didn’t want any more penguins to be caught in the black liquid. If
the mammals hadn’t have saved Jello he would have died in the black liquid. Polo
would have also died. This realization haunts Jello and Polo everyday. They felt safe
in the new place with the strange mammals. They lived a happy rest of their lives.
Bennett V. – 7th Grace St. Luke’s (HM)"Pablo the African Penguin" Once there was a penguin
named Pablo. He lived with his two brothers in South Africa. He loved swimming
and playing with his brothers. His younger brother was named Tiko. He had a
orange mohawk and was about the same height as Pablo. His oldest brother, Rico,
was about three inches taller than Pablo and very lean. If you ever saw Pablo,
you would automatically put a smile on your face just watching him. He was
always laughing and playing. He also looked funny. He was about one foot tall
and very chubby.
One morning when Pablo went
for a morning swim, he noticed that the water was unusually dark and dirty. He
began to get worried and decided to end his daily swim and went to ask his
brothers if they had noticed the murky water. “What are you talking about,
Pablo?” said Tiko. “I have never noticed. Let me go see what this is all about.”
Tiko then waddled out to the ocean to see the dark water. The two others
followed him. “Holy guacamole!” exclaimed Tiko. “What is happening?”
“I’ll tell you what’s
happening.” said Rico. “Those humans are pouring their sewage out into our
“Well what can we do?” said
Pablo. “I’ll tell you what we can
do.” responded Tiko. “We can march on up there and slap some sense into ‘em!’
“NO!” exclaimed Pablo and
“We can move to Memphis,
Tennessee! I have always wanted to fly on a plane!”
“Yeah, and I hear they have
great swimming areas down in the South!”
“Well what are we waiting
for? Let’s fly to Mexico!” said Tiko.
“It’s um...it’s Memphis,
Tiko, not Mexico.” said Rico.
“Oh right, but we can always
go to Mexico too. I have some tickets...” said Tiko suspiciously.
“I’m not even going to ask
how you got those.” said Pablo.
And so Pablo, Tiko, and Rico
moved to Memphis, Tennessee where they were kindly adopted by the Memphis Zoo.
They were put in a wonderful habitat where Pablo could continue to take his
morning swims in nice, clear water.