Friday, July 21, 2006

This Life on Earth

Who’d be a penguin? And even if you believed in re-incarnation, could you choose to be a penguin over, say, the privilege of being a human being or the curse of being a bug relegated to the undergrowth? Hmmm. Just what is the hierarchy of sentient beings according to Buddhist teachings?

I’ve been vaguely wondering who’d be a penguin, ever since I saw March of the Penguins at the cinema. They lead such harsh lives, especially during their breeding season. How do they survive as a species, I wonder? Between the arduous trek to the heart of the Antarctic, the standing around in the snow and wind, the perilous and often fatal transfer of the egg from the female to the male, the standing around in the snow and wind, the near starvation, the threat of predators, the standing around in the snow and wind… life doesn’t look all that good for a penguin. Maybe it’s better to be a bug; at least if you get eaten by a predator, the end is bloodless—unlike the unenviable fate of sea lions when they’re tossed into the air and mauled to death by killer whales

Recently I’ve been reminded of my concern for penguins while watching the first episode of the BBC documentary Planet Earth. Again, I learnt about the male penguins nursing their eggs on their feet. In this instance, they didn’t mention that the females, after the exertion of having just laid the eggs, had to return to the sea to get some food, either that or turn into popsicles through lack of nourishment. Always the male penguins get the praise for looking after the embryos. Still, after watching the second episode now, I’m enjoying the David Attenborough narrated documentary. While I might wonder about the future of penguins, it’s no surprise that pandas are a dying breed. Can’t they find something else to eat, other than the nutritionally poor bamboo?

adopt your own virtual pet!

Anyway, with the magic of the Internets I’ve taken a penguin under my arm. Her name is Gwyneth—Gwen for short, and alliterative reasons. Unfortunately I couldn’t find any pandas to adopt.

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