Didn't want to post this but it's been 6 days since we've seen Penguin. She disappeared on Xmas for 5 days and again last weekend. We miss her company so much and are hoping she is just exploring further afield before flying home one day soon. The joy she's bought to all our lives has been immeasurable. Hope this isn't her last post…. #comehomepenguin
Pets play a special part in many Australian families.
But the Bloom family of Newport, on Sydney’s Northern Beaches, have a pet that is a bit more special than most – they have a magpie called Penguin.
Penguin the magpie has been gaining attention recently for her Instagram account, set up by dad Cameron Bloom. She now has about 30,000 followers.
Publications have recently picked up on her fame and have been telling her story: how she was found and raised by hand by the Blooms, how she leaves and comes back to them, how she has become apart of the family.
But there’s much more too it than that.
Back in 2013, the Bloom family embarked on a family holiday around Southeast Asia. However, the trip ended in tragedy when mother, Sam fell off the roof of a hotel in Thailand when the railing gave away. She very nearly died. Her back was broken and she would be confined to a wheelchair for the rest her life.
After six months in hospital, Sam came home. It was hard times for the family, in particular Sam who had been a fit, energetic mother.
She used to play soccer, surf, go to the gym, mountain bike and kayak.
The family had to transition, learn new ways of going about life, help Sam on her recovery.
And then something else happened.
They found Penguin.
It was some months after Sam’s accident when the Blooms found her. She had fallen out of her nest, she was just a few weeks old.
They took her home and hand-reared her with the advice of the local vet.
With the help of the family the pair grew stronger together.
“She’s a great companion for Sam,” said Sam’s husband Cameron Bloom.
“Penguin was trying to find her feet and Sam was going through a deep depression. They both were broken, it created a nice bond.”
Since then Cameron, a photographer by trade, has been taking photos of Penguin and her place in the family.
“I love taking pictures of her, she has this character… It’s been something I’ve just done”.
“Sometimes I might have a few ideas for cute photos, or sometimes it will be a nice moment like yesterday flew up onto [my son] Noah’s head and the light was beautiful so I grabbed the camera,” he said.
When his friends and family began to ask about the latest photo he had taken he decided to make an Instagram account dedicated to Penguin the Magpie.
“I only intended it to be for people to stumble upon but it has grown because the photos are quirky and it’s a feel-good story,” he said.
It’s been almost two years since they’ve had Penguin and they operate as most families.
She’s as cheeky as the three boys – Rueben, 13, Noah, 11 and Oli, 9.
“We could be making dinner and she’ll run across the table and grab a piece of meat and fly away,” said Cameron.
Or, “like this morning she came down and landed on my shoulder” to say hello.
“We’re a bit like Jane Goodall. We know her calls and different sounds for her mood or what she is saying. When she wags her tail we know she happy.”
Even as I interview Cameron over the phone I could hear her talk.
I asked: “Is she talking to you?”
“No, she can see Sam,” said Cameron.
Cameron found it hard to choose which photo was his favourite, but said he particularly likes the black and white stills.
“There’s a feeling you get when you look at them… they’re just special,” he said.
“Most people don’t get opportunity to normally get so close to such an animal. Everyone knows magpies – not many get to know them intimately like we have.
“It’s been a joy finding her character.”
Here’s some more stunning photos of Penguin and the Blooms.
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