Sex Dolls of the Adelie Penguins

Contrary to scientific opinion male Adelie penguins are so undiscriminating that when Lloyd Spencer Davis and his team placed a toy penguin on the ice “the males practically lined up to mate with it.”

Review by Sara Wheeler of “A Polar Affair” by Lloyd Spencer Davis, The Wall Street Journal

“Oh yeah!”


As I gazed out onto the waters of the Southern Ocean, I had to admit to myself that I wasn’t getting any younger. On the other hand, I was getting older, and I hadn’t passed on my genetic material to any offspring. Maybe it was because of what one writer referred to as the “devouring curiosity and pig-headed disregard for their own safety” that characterizes my species. Yes, we Adelie penguins are curious, “poking” our “heads to and fro” in an “absurd way” in the face of howling explorers’ dogs as if to say “Hulloa! here’s a game–what do all you ridiculous things want?” What can I say, I’m a guy’s kind of guy.


“Have you seen the new chick in town?”

You can imagine how that sort of bonhomie and camaraderie might limit a guy’s mating prospects. They want to waddle off and procreate, while we just want to–you’ll excuse the expression–chill.

I guess part of it’s the tuxedo-like coat. We’re all dressed up with no place to go, and you know that females just love to get all dolled up for a night on the town, like the “Save the Humans” benefit ball. Frankly, I’d rather be confined to an aquarium for life than suffer through an evening of tasteless krill and dancing to Chilly Willy and His South Pole Swingers, but that’s what you gotta do if you want to make it with the fairer sex.

Except for the new gal in town. I don’t know what it is about her, but you might say she has us all in thrall. She’s . . . aloof. Blase. Totally indifferent to our typical courtship tricks, like leaping ten feet out of icy cold water, and swimming at five miles an hour, and all the other macho feats of potency we’re capable of.

Maybe I’ll try a different tack. The “sensitive guy” shtick that Alan Alda was supposedly master of. You just sidle up to the object of your affection and say . . . “Hi.” In a totally amiable and non-threatening way, of course.

Alan Alda: “What’s a nice penguin like you doing at a pole like this?”


I round the corner of the glacier and . . . unbelievable! Looks like every other male penguin has the same idea. Guys are literally lining up to have a go at the Antarctic Female of Mystery. And as it turns out, she’s apparently easier than everybody thought. No courtship dance, sweet nothings, boxes of candy or flowers, if you could find any in this godforsaken place I call home. It’s just wham, bam, thank you, ma’am–and I’m seventh in line!

Oh well, guess I’ll take sloppy sevenths.

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