Blue penguins star in Oddball movie

Oddball movie - maremma puppyA new film is due to hit New Zealand’s cinema screens soon and, alongside a very cuddly dog and his eccentric owner, it features a cast of blue penguins.

‘Oddball’ will be released on 14th January and tells the heart-warming tale of blue penguins and their unusual protector, Oddball, a Maremma dog. 

Oddball was first tasked with protecting chickens from foxes by chicken farmer ‘Swampy’, but, with the nearby penguin population almost wiped out by the same foxes, Swampy convinced local authorities to allow his ridiculously photogenic dog to protect a colony of blue penguins on Middle Island, Victoria.

It was reported recently that, by using genetic techniques, the Australian blue penguins were found to be a distinct species from their New Zealand cousins.  They may also have different calls or “accents”, but visually, they are identical.  Here is a wonderful opportunity to get to know blue penguins a little better and enjoy a wonderful real-life animal story in this ‘terrific’, ‘amiable heart-warmer’ of a movie. 

On the West Coast, blue penguins live in small scattered colonies and generally come and go under cover of darkness so are rarely seen.  However, West Coast Penguin Trust Manager, Inger Perkins, explains that “the next couple of months will be moulting season for our penguins, when they are stuck on land for a couple of weeks while all their feathers fall out and are replaced.  They are at their most stressed and most vulnerable at this stage and if anyone comes across a scruffy, grumpy looking penguin at or near the beach, please give it a wide berth and ensure dogs are kept well away.”

While Oddball screens in Hokitika, the Regent theatre has kindly agreed to make a donation box available to support penguin conservation on the West Coast, or you can make donations to support the work of the West Coast Penguin Trust through the Trust’s website. 

The Guardian.com writes “Oddball is fun and thoughtfully minded, with a sweet charm that endears from the get-go. Themes around the importance of environmental preservation arise as a natural part of the story…. Given the dogs and penguins (which were on loan from a zoo) were not permitted to interact on the set together, the scenes with them together required considerable visual trickery. The integration comes together seamlessly and – no surprises here – the animals are the real attractions.”

Ms Perkins added “after vehicles on our coast roads, dogs are the biggest threat to our local penguins so this role reversal from threat to protector as well as seeing blue penguins on the big screen will be a real treat.  All animal lovers will enjoy it!”

Oddball movie trailer

Oddball the dog and Pocket the penguin

Oddball the dog and Pocket the penguin