Gloucestershire penguin is crowned the world's most popular flightless bird

In a furious competition that crashed the organiser's website, Spike, a 15-year-old king penguin who lives at Birdland wildlife park in Bourton-on-the-Water, has been voted the world's most popular flightless bird.

By Sarah Kent  |  Published
Spike, a king penguin hand-reared from an egg at Birdland Park and Gardens in Bourton-on-the-Water, has just been crowned the world's most popular penguin. © Cotswold House Photography.

Spike the king penguin and resident of Birdland Park and Gardens in Bourton-on-the-Water was crowned the world's most popular penguin on Thursday 20 April 2023, in the global final of the Penguins International ‘March of The Penguin Madness’ challenge.

Spike, who has over 15,000 followers on Facebook and has starred alongside Sir David Attenborough in the BBC's Natural Curiosities series, among many other television and modelling roles, pipped an African penguin from Hawaii to the post and saw off competition from Australia, the USA and Canada in the worldwide final.

15-year-old Spike was born at the wildlife park in the Cotswolds in 2007 and was hand-reared from an egg by his keeper, Alistair Keen, after his mother and father abandoned him. 

Keen said: 'It’s been absolutely overwhelming to witness the support for Spike from around the world. He’s obviously a particular favourite with me, but for him to have made quite such a global impact is really incredible.

'Spike is a real personality and we all have a fantastic bond with him, having been hand-reared by us after being abandoned. As well as being great news for Spike, the worldwide awareness created by the competition is also incredibly important for penguin conservation.'

Birdland is home to England's only colony of king penguins and they share a fishing village-themed enclosure at the park with a group of Humboldt penguins.

It's also World Penguin Day on Tuesday 25 April 2023, so there's no better excuse to go and visit him! 

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