Penguin 337, the Runaway Humboldt, to be Named in Japan


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Penguin 337, the one year-old Humboldt who escaped from a Tokyo aquarium over two months ago, was recently returned to its home at the Tokyo Sea Life Park after a lengthy adventure. To celebrate its return, the penguin is finally getting something we all take for granted: a name.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with this particular story, here's what happened: A young penguin, which was only known by its number since it was too young for its gender to be determined, scaled a rock wall and climbed through a barbed wire fence to freedom over two months ago. Much to the dismay of aquarium officials and the Japanese Coast Guard, the feathered creature eluded their grasp for quite some time, despite the efforts of many to bring the Humboldt back home. So began the little one's life on the lam.

Officials believed that Penguin 337 kept his belly full by eating small fish from the Tokyo Bay, which was cause for some concern. The polluted waters, which are also experiencing high radiation levels as of late, were thought to be too unhealthy for the bird. However, thanks to help of the coast guard and eagle-eyed residents, 337 was returned to the aquarium and given a clean bill of health. I smell another "Happy Feet" sequel in the works.

Now that the penguin -- who has since been labeled as a male, by the way -- has returned to his home, officials at Tokyo Sea Life Park are asking visitors for a little help finding a name for the little guy. The contest runs between June 15 and July 1.

"We decided to give him a pet name by soliciting ideas and their reasons from visitors," aquarium official Takashi Sugino explained. "This is a special treatment to express our gratitude to the public for providing information on the bird, and also for cooperating with us by listening to our call not to try to capture him."