Penguin Theft

Reading this week:

  • Shaping the Future of Power: Knowledge Production and Network-Building in China-Africa Relations by Lina Benabdallah
  • Against Elections: The Case for Democracy by David Van Reybrouck

We set out today to steal a penguin. The semester here at Yale as been dragging on a bit (they eliminated all the breaks, for reasons which made perfect sense, but man we don’t get a break), and we needed to switch things up and add some excitement to our life. So we went to Mystic Aquarium with the intent to steal a penguin.

The “we” in this scenario was me and my super amazing girlfriend. She will tell you that we did not in fact set out to steal a penguin, but instead went to Mystic Aquarium because it is a nice place to go and also that she has fond childhood memories of visiting every summer, but she is just trying to cover her tracks. We visited exactly a week ago from when this should be posted, so it was a slightly cool October day up in Mystic, and I was a bit surprised at how many people were there. They had timed tickets, so I had imagined relatively controlled crowds, but there were about as twice as many people as I would have really been comfortable with. And not to complain too heavily about children, but they’re excited to see beluga whales and less excited to stay six feet away from people. I can hardly blame ’em.

My super amazing girlfriend’s loyalties when it comes to favorite animals at the Mystic Aquarium is split between sharks and beluga whales. Luckily the whales are up first and we got to see them get fed and interact with people through the tank. They seemed to be having an alright time, so were a delight to watch, and by hanging out a bit we established ourselves as normal tourists instead of daring penguin thieves. You gotta establish your bonafides, you understand.

The biggest takeaway from the day was actually that the Mystic Aquarium is super into Halloween. There were Halloween decorations everywhere. The polar bear at the front had a giant spider in its mouth. The majority of the fish had to contend with new neighbors in the form of skulls and skeletons. There was an entire skeleton island in the marsh, and the rain forest exhibit featured incongruous pumpkins and unfortunately congruous black cats. Do they buy new stuff every year, or does the Mystic Aquarium have a gigantic warehouse of Halloween decorations stuffed to the gills 11 out of 12 months in the year?

Anyways, back to the heist. After passing by the seal and sea lion exhibits, where we admired their grace, beauty, and the fact that it kinda sounded like they were sneezing whenever they came up for air, we head up the marsh walkway. At Mystic, you split off the marsh walkway to get to the penguin exhibit. We spent a chunk of time here, to scope out the scene, and also (on our second go-around) to call my girlfriend’s sister, who loves penguins. Here I learned all the penguins have names consisting of two colors (“blue grey,” “yellow red,” etc), and are identified by beads on their armbands. We also learned that in captivity they lived for 30+ years and had regular appointments with an eye specialist. Most importantly, we learned that two penguins sitting in a little rock hut and looking out are very cute!

Unfortunately, there were just too many people, so we called off the heist for right then and decided to see the rest of the aquarium. After the penguins and the marsh, the rest of the exhibits were indoors, which we braved out of a love of sharks. I think I failed to take any good quality pictures of sharks, but I did take this photo of a blue lobster which, I am told, is very rare, and must also be a criminal, relegated as he was to an individualized jail. Poor thing.

There were also jellyfish, which I don’t normally really like because I have been stung by them before, but I figured they would make a cool gif. I also briefly was in awe of a living creature of such a different sort than the vertebrates I normally interact with, but that passed as I moved onto thinking about blog content:

After seeing all the indoor exhibits, we went outside and took another lap around the outdoor exhibits, but alas the potential for penguin thievery hadn’t improved any. So we went to go say goodbye to the belugas who, I am sure, were as sad to see us go as we were to leave them, and then exited via the gift shop. I managed to buy a lapel pin, despite them hiding them in the absolute least visible spot. We then set off to eat some seafood, which now that I think about it was probably in bad taste? Tasted good though. I also took this very nice picture (I think) of a pigeon:

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