The names for Vancouver Aquarium’s seven African penguins have been selected! During a month-long contest, more than 600 entries from all across British Columbia were submitted to the Aquarium. Ranging from incredible pieces of artwork and quirky written essays, to creative poems and original video submissions, the entries charmed the panel of judges.

To welcome the seven African penguins to their new home at the Vancouver Aquarium, staff thought it would be fitting to name them after British Columbia places, and to get residents’ help naming them. We are always looking for fun ways to engage with our visitors. The naming contest has been extremely popular and we thank everyone who participated. The panel of judges chose names that resonate both with the staff who work with the animals and with our visitors.

A panel of Vancouver Aquarium judges, including staff who work with and care for the penguins, carefully reviewed each entry.  Here are the seven winners:

Lillooet (new name for pink-beaded penguin, submitted by Miriam Moysey): The panel appreciated Miriam’s submission for Lillooet, which she linked to the Lillooet Nation that has inhabited the area for thousands of years. Miriam’s entry had a call to action, and drew attention to the need to conserve and protect the natural world. This really resonated with the Aquarium’s panel of judges as African penguins also need to be protected as their numbers have declined by 90 per cent since the 1900s.

Tofino: (new name for pink-grey beaded penguin, submitted by Krista Bratton): Krista’s great written submission for the name Tofino linked the behaviour and physical adaptations of African penguins to the favourite pastime of locals and travelers to Tofino – surfing!

Hope (new name for pink-white-beaded penguin, submitted by Nicole Souza): Nicole’s submission was selected for her creative song composition “We Are Little Penguins” (to the tune of “I’m a Little Teapot”), as well as her written rationale which highlighted the endangered status of African penguins and the hope we can bring for a brighter future through education and sustainable seafood practices.

Nelson (new name for brown-beaded penguin, submitted by Nelmarie Albert Nurhan Illuday): Nelmarie’s submission included a well-written rationale linking the city of Nelson, B.C., and the South African president and Nobel Peace Prize winner, Nelson Mandela – a very fitting analogy for a penguin from South Africa.

Steveston (new name for red-beaded penguin, submitted by Winnie Kwok): Winnie’s submission was selected for her witty video entry and original song composition about “Steveston the Penguin.” Winnie’s written rationale also eloquently highlighted why she loves the beautiful village of Steveston with its vibrant community, past and present.

Sechelt (new name for yellow-brown-beaded penguin, submitted by Diana Luong): Diana submitted the name Sechelt along with a fun and colourful animated video which she narrated, highlighting Sechelt as an ideal place to live for both humans and penguins. The panel loved the rationale, and it was evident Diana had put a lot of hard work into creating her animated video submission.

Salt Spring (new name for orange-green-beaded penguin, submitted by Aris Murray): Aris’ creative art piece of an African penguin created a fun connection between the name Salt Spring — the largest of B.C.’s Southern Gulf Islands — and the “salty” sea habitat of African penguins, the “spring” of the penguins as they jump out of the sea, and the beauty of these sleek birds.

The winners will receive a one-year family membership to the Aquarium, and will be able to take three friends on a VIP penguin experience.

If you haven’t met the new African penguins yet, waddle your way to the Vancouver Aquarium and check out Penguin Point, where you can watch these little characters as they lounge on their rocky beach, paddle around and “fly” underwater. Plus, discover these birds’ amazing adaptations to life at sea, including some of their goofy and distinctive penguin behaviours.

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