Birdland superstar Spike set to be crowned King Penguin
By David Wood
A celebrity penguin from the Cotswolds is poised to become the world's most popular flightless bird after winning through to the final of a global competition.
Spike, a king penguin at Birdland who has over 15,000 Facebook followers, has already beaten off competitors from as far afield as Australia, America and Canada in the Penguins International 'March of The Penguins Madness' challenge.
Now the 15-year-old bird faces one final challenge as he is up against an African penguin called Mai from the Hyatt Regency Maui Resort & Spa in Hawaii.
Voting for the winner opens online on Sunday and runs until Tuesday with the result being announced on Thursday.
Spike's keepers are urging people to get behind the king penguin's bid to become the world's most popular penguin.
Birdland's head keeper Alistair Keen said: "We've been overwhelmed with the support Spike has got so far and it's amazing he has reached the final.
"There's quite a contrast between the Cotswolds and a luxury resort in Hawaii but we're confident, with the British public's help, we can ruffle a few feathers and get him crowned king penguin.
"Spike is a real personality and we have a fantastic bond with him, having been hand-reared by the keepers here in 2007 after being abandoned as an egg by his parents.
"His character makes him one of the stars of the show at Birdland and if he becomes the world's most popular penguin, it'll be a real feather in his cap."
Over the years Spike has become one of the country's best known penguins with a starring role alongside the legendary Sir David Attenborough as part of the 'Natural Curiosities' series.
Among his other television highlights are 'Penguins Make You Laugh Out Loud' and 'Junior Vets'. He's also featured on 'Escape to the Country' and starred in adverts for LG and an Icelandic bank.
In addition to his television work, Spike has appeared in numerous calendars, on greetings cards and he even has a double page spread in a natural history book.
With its combination of woodland, riverside and gardens, Birdland features more than 500 birds, ranging from birds of prey and parrots to cassowaries and cranes in a mix of free-flying and aviary displays.
Penguins International is a non-profit organisation committed to preserving and protecting penguins throughout the world.
Voting will take place from Sunday to Tuesday (April 16-18). Votes will be collected in three forms to reduce the intense traffic to Penguins International website:
1) Penguins International Website https://www.penguinsinternational.org/march-of-the-penguin-madness/ will open on Sunday, April 16 - Tuesday, April 18.
2) Instagram story polls (two 24-hour rounds) will open around 8am-9am Sunday and Monday.
3) Facebook reaction posts will be posted around 7am-8am Sunday and votes tallied on Tuesday.
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