Lala lived with the Nishimotos who took him to the market for the first time, but Lala kept going back. So the family decided to give him a tiny backpack and taught him to go by himself.
A penguin makes for a rather high-maintenance house guest to entertain but this family in Japan adopted a 10-year-old King penguin nonetheless. Named Lala, the Antarctic resident found himself several thousand miles away from his home in a rather humid and hot Japanese town. But he quickly adapted to his new life and even made a life for himself among his human counterparts. While having a pet penguin in such unsuitable weather conditions is inhuman, the circumstance around Lala's Japanese residency probably warrants an exception. Or at least it did back in the 90s.
Lala was an anomaly and even had a documentary made about him. In the video, Lala can be seen waddling around town adorably with a tiny penguin-shaped backpack. The family took him to the market for the first time, but Lala kept going back. So the family decided to put a tiny backpack on him and even taught him to get fish from the market on his own, according to Bored Panda. Like a child off to explore the big world, Lala also ventured into the streets of Japan in search of fish as he would have back home. He lived with the Nishimotos, in a specially designed air-conditioned room from where he would set off on his daily routine of shopping for fish.
But how exactly did Lala become a Nishimoto family member? The penguin was sadly found trapped in a fishing net with an injured beak and wing. A fisherman found Lala injured and kept him on the boat with him. When the fisherman returned, he brought along the bird with him and took him to the Nishimoto family. They took care of his injuries and nursed him back to health. Since then Lala has not left his caregivers and continues to live with them in the refrigerated room that the family had built for him under their house.
While it is not clear why the penguin was not handed over to a wildlife rescue and rehabilitation center, the penguin became a part of the human family and a loving member of the town as well. The fish seller and other residents adored the penguin walking around on the streets. He was a regular at the local fishmonger who even knew his preference — of sardines and mackerel. A neighbor even cools him off by spraying him with water from a garden hose. In the Animal Planet documentary from 1996, Lala can be seen spending some quality time with the Nishimotos after his big outing as they give him gentle scratches under his chin.
King penguins have a maximum life span of 26 years in the wild and 41 years in captivity. At 10 years old, Lala was considered a middle-aged penguin. Unfortunately, he passed away in 1998. Circumstances around his death are unknown but the memories of Lala still live on, not only in the small town but all around the world.
You can watch the adorable video of Lala walking about town here: