This little penguin became an internet star not too long ago. You may have seen him — getting tickled. Watching this tiny little penguin, who is a “mascot” at the Cincinnati Zoo and whose name is “Cookie,” giggle with seeming delight as his human handler tickles him all over was so endearing, the video has rolled up more than 8.5 million views on YouTube.
If you aren’t one of those 8.5 million viewers — or if you are but you’d like to see this super-cute penguin getting tickled again — we suggest you watch this video now, before reading any further.
Why? Because we’re going to tell you a secret about what’s really going on here, a secret that’ll make you look at this penguin tickling video in a whole different way.
We’ll give you a minute…
(Tick tock, tick tock…)
Okay! We hope you enjoyed that. Now, the truth.
According to zoo spokesperson Tiffany Barnes, Cookie is not giggling at all. In fact, this little penguin thinks he’s mating with that hand, or trying to anyway.
The sounds Cookie makes are mating calls, and what you’re seeing here is the behavior of a male little penguin courting a potential partner.
“Some penguins are more vocal than others,” said Barnes.
There — now how do like this penguin video? Seems a little weird, doesn’t it?
By the way, while cookie is obviously a little penguin, “Little Penguin” is also the name of his species. As you might expect, Little Penguins are the smallest kind of penguin there is, standing between a foot and a foot-and-half tall when fully grown.