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Saturday, 25 November, 2000, 15:37 GMT
Penguin fever grips Taiwan
King penguins
People in Taiwan love to see unusual animals
By Damian Grammaticas

People in Taipei have been gripped by an unfolding saga at the city's zoo, as two king penguins have been hatching a new egg.

Outside Taipei Zoo this week, people queued to see the penguins even before the gates had opened, and the underground railway line serving the zoo was full to capacity.

The zoo's director estimated that almost 1.5 million visitors had filed past the egg that the king penguins have been incubating in the past few weeks.

Their progress has been followed live by Taiwan's television stations, creating something of a soap opera.

Model father

People in Taiwan seem attracted by unusual animals. A pair of koala bears from Australia drew another million visitors to the zoo last year.

King penguin
Callers have bombarded the zoo with tips
The penguins were imported especially and have gained a reputation for being exotic and adorable.

They have been helped by a bit of canny marketing.

The zoo meant to acquire two male and two female penguins. Instead, it ended up with three females fighting for the attention of one mate.

It turned the mistake to its advantage, creating a soap opera out of the events in the penguin house.

The arrival of an egg added to the interest, particularly when it turned out that the penguin was a model father.

He took his duties seriously, incubating it for several days without a break, while anxious callers bombarded the zoo with tips to help it hatch.

Now the zoo says it's planning to import another 10 king penguins.

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See also:

02 Nov 00 | Sci/Tech
Navy probes penguin puzzle
07 Jun 00 | Sci/Tech
P-p-p-pick out a penguin
11 Oct 99 | Sci/Tech
UK penguins struck by avian malaria
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