Penguins mug for camera, take a pretty great ‘selfie’

Emperor penguins near Australia's Mawson research center in Antarctica took a video

Emperor penguins near Australia's Mawson research center in Antarctica took a video "selfie." (Australian Antarctic Division/Screen Shot by NPR)

Emperor penguins are known to be social and curious. But you probably didn’t know that they are also reasonably good at framing a video shot.

When an expeditioner with the Australian Antarctic Division left his camera on the ice while visiting a penguin colony, the birds quickly hustled over to investigate.

It’s worth noting that the penguins did not actually push the record button – it was already rolling — but did manage to produce a hilarious 38-second video.

“[I]t didn’t take long for the naturally curious birds to seize the opportunity for a selfie,” the Australian Antarctic Division said.

It opens with a tight shot of the bird’s clawed feet as is heads toward the camera.

Then, the savvy animal manages to tip the camera up skyward, perfectly framing its head and belly as it peers down at the lens. Then another bird comes into the frame and joins the party. The two appear to mug for the camera for a few seconds, bending down curiously and chirping at the foreign object in their midst.

Then they gaze to the horizon again, shaking their heads and their bellies. They’ve had enough time in the limelight for now.

The expeditioner is named Eddie Gault, and the animals captured their “bird’s eye view” near Australia’s Mawson research station in Antarctica.

This species of penguin is especially hearty, able to “breed during the worst weather conditions on earth,” the AAD said. They huddle together for warmth in the face of extreme temperatures, taking turns in the warmest and coldest parts of the group.

These aren’t the first penguins to go viral recently from the AAD’s social media profiles.

In January, the government agency posted this charming video of a penguin leaping onto a boat from the icy water, surprising researchers.

The selfie video clip will likely avoid the legal troubles of another recent high-profile animal selfie, because the camera was already rolling when the penguins gathered around it, as The Washington Post pointed out.

The famous “monkey selfie” case took years to resolve, after a macaque snapped a photo of himself in the jungles of Indonesia with a wildlife photographer’s camera.

That raised intense questions that got into philosophical territory – could a monkey own a copyright for an image it created?

A federal judge said no, as NPR’s Camila Domonoske reported, and argued that there is “no indication” animals are included in the Copyright Act.

Last September, the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals said they settled with the photographer in a lawsuit they filed on behalf of the picture-loving macaque. Both sides asked a federal appeals court to throw out the case.

Part of the settlement stipulated that the photographer, David Slater, must donate 25 percent of future revenues to groups that protect this species in Indonesia.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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