In a charming video filmed by Real TV in the 1990s, the penguin is seen trekking from his home to the neighborhood market all by himself.
Long before the internet started gasping in amazement over videos of dogs fetching beer for their owners, one family in Japan owned a peculiar pet with an even peculiar habit. LaLa, a rescued king penguin who made himself at home with the Nishimoto family, became such a local attraction that journalists from around the world would try to get in touch with the family and interview them. In a charming video filmed by Real TV in the 1990s, the penguin is seen trekking from his home to the neighborhood market all by himself and fetching some fresh fish for himself and his human family.
LaLa, who was around 10-years-old when the documentary was filmed, reportedly spent his days living in a special air-conditioned room in the house and roamed around the streets of his town. According to Bored Panda, the penguin came into the Nishimoto family's life after a fisherman discovered him trapped in a fishing net with an injured beak and wing. The man brought the bird to the Nishimoto family when he returned from his fishing trip and the loving family nurtured him back to health. During this time, LaLa grew attached to his new human family and didn't want to leave them even when he was well enough to do so.
The Nishimoto family, therefore, decided to keep him with them and made the required accommodations so that LaLa would have a comfortable life in their home. Since Japan's climate is quite different from that of the cold Antarctic where he grew up, they even set up a refrigerated room for him under their house. Soon, he began accompanying them to the local market and loved it so much that he kept going back. Recognizing LaLa's interests, the family decided to put a tiny backpack on him and taught him how to get fish from the market on his own.
In the video — which has been shared across pretty much every video-sharing platform over the years — LaLa is seen strutting down the road to the market where the delighted local fishmonger serves him a fresh fish straight to his beak. Gulping it down effortlessly, he then turns around for her so that she can put one more fish wrapped in plastic inside his cute little backpack. "Sardines and mackerel are his favorite. He loves to eat them. He is adorable," the woman tells the interviewers in the documentary.
A comment posted to the r/todayilearned Reddit community provides some more information about the independent penguin. "The penguin named Lala is apparently a male penguin despite its name. He was caught injured in fishnet in Kagoshima prefecture, Japan about  years ago. The family seen in the video nurtured him until he fully recovered. Since he refused to leave the family, the family accepted him and build him the little airconditioned room. He lived on for 10 years with the family until he died of old age in 1996," wrote fabiodens.
"Within the town he lived in, he was well known (not really a surprise I guess) and the path he'd take to go to the fish store was known as the 'lala-chan road' and people would spray some water on the road during hot days in the summer to protect his little feet from burning on the concrete," they added. "In case you were wondering how the penguin eats fish at the store without paying like I did, the owner family would go to the fish store and pay the tab for the penguin."