The injured penguin was discovered by a fisherman who brought him back to the Nishimoto family, who nursed him back to health.
People opt for various types of exotic pets, stepping away from the norm of having cats and dogs. While one may assume this is limited to having rodents, reptiles, or even some exotic bird, a penguin doesn't come to mind as a great choice for a house pet. But this was a reality in 1990s Japan when a King penguin lived among humans and made a life for himself several thousand miles away from his actual home in Antarctica. Given an opportunity, no one would turn away from the chance to have an adorable housemate like Lala the penguin. But the circumstances under which Lala ended up in a small Japanese town are not all rainbows and sunshine.
The penguin was discovered by a fisherman, trapped in a fishing net with an injured beak and wing. He decided to keep the injured penguin with him on the boat and brought him back to the Nishimoto family. They took care of Lala and nursed him back to health. Since then the penguin has not left his caregivers. He was even given his own accommodation at the Nishimoto household. They installed a special refrigerated room for Lala under their house to suit the climate he actually belonged in, unlike the hot and humid town he had ended up in.
He soon got acquainted with life among the humans. According to Bored Panda, the family took Lala to the market for the first time, but he enjoyed it so much, he kept going back. So the family decided to teach him how to go to the market by himself and even equipped him with a cute penguin-shaped backpack to bring back his shopping in. A penguin living in a Japanese town among people, let alone, waddling around it to get some shopping done was as much an anomaly in the 90s as it would be now. Lala's shopping day was documented by Animal Planet when he was 10 years old.
The video shows Lala venturing into the streets of Japan in search of fish as part of his daily routine. He walks to the store where the delighted fishseller serves her regular customer a large fish. She even knew his preference — sardines and mackerel. "He loves to eat them. He is adorable," the woman stated in the documentary. Lala was a delightful resident of the town who was well-loved by all. After his fill at the fish store, Lala waddled on back home as a kind neighbor cooled him off with water. He then made his way back home and spent some quality time with the Nishimotos who gave him gentle scratches under his chin.
Unfortunately, Lala passed away in 1998. King penguins have a maximum life span of 26 years in the wild and 41 years in captivity. At 10 years old, Lala would have been considered a middle-aged penguin. It is unknown why the family did not hand the penguin over to wildlife conservation authorities and the cause of his death is not known either. But the memories of Lala still live on. In fact, Lala is still making rounds on the internet and even went viral on Reddit. Redditors were delighted to hear about the heartwarming story of Lala the penguin.
One user wrote: If I worked in a fish store and a penguin just walked around the corner and into my store, you bet your ass I would give him a fish. Another person could not help but note how there was still a lot of good left in the world. User JayWegrez wrote: It's a strange world we live in like there's an unbelievable amount of pain, suffering, and evil out there. However, at the same time in the same world, there's an unbelievable amount of love, wholesomeness, and good out there (like the story of this penguin).