Did you know penguins are so adorable that they get not just one but two days of annual celebratory attention?

Jan. 20 each year is Penguin Awareness Day, and April 25 is World Penguin Day. So let's appreciate our little tuxedo-clad friends and educate ourselves on why they're (not just so freaking cute but also) important.

Without further ado...


1. Penguins are pretty incredible.

Photo by Vanderlei Almeida/AFP/Getty Images.

Let me tell you why.

2. There are so many different kinds of penguins — 17 to 19 species, to be more precise.

These little ones are Adélie penguins.

Photo by Kazuhiro Nogi/AFP/Getty Images.

3. Of all these different species, the emperor penguin is the biggest...

...just as its name implies.

Here's a colony of emperors who appear to be completely over an elephant seal that won't shut up.

"Can it, Rebecca!" Photo by Marcel Mochet/AFP/Getty Images.

4. On average, emperor penguins are about 3'9" tall.

For scale, these emperor penguins are hanging out in Tokyo's Ueno Zoo next to what I'm assuming is an adult human rocking some sweet penguin cosplay.

Photo by Yoshikazu Tsuno/AFP/Getty Images.

5. On the other end of the size spectrum are these little blue penguins.

They're not as widely known as the dapper emperors, and they stand about a foot tall, give or take.

Photo by Marty Melville/AFP/Getty Images.

6. Penguins are all about that seafood life.

That is, they eat things like fish, krill, and squid.

Photo by Michal Cizek/AFP/Getty Images.

7. Even the little ones have huge appetites.

The entire species of Adélies, one of the smaller penguins, puts away 1.5 million metric tons of krill a year (and that doesn't include their appetite for fish and squid).

Photo by Vanderlei Almeida/AFP/Getty Images.

8. Remember, though: Penguins don't live at the North Pole.

Photo by Vanderlei Almeida/AFP/Getty Images.

Although a penguin-driven Santa sleigh would be pretty adorable in theory.

9. Most species of penguin live down south, in places like Antarctica, New Zealand, and — like the ones below — Chile.

Photo by Vanderlei Almeida/AFP/Getty Images.

10. But that's not to say penguins can't live farther north.

Beach-bum penguins (er, African penguins) are definitely a thing.

Photo by Stephane de Sakutin/AFP/Getty Images.

11. You may spot them off the coast of South Africa.

Photo by Rodger Bosch/AFP/Getty Images.

The northernmost place wild penguins roam is the Galápagos Islands, which are right on the equator. (Naturally, they are called Galápagos penguins.)

12. Most penguin species are also monogamous.

I'm sorry, but that's just adorable.

Photo by Vanderlei Almeida/AFP/Getty Images.

To be clear, though, that doesn't mean they "mate for life," so to speak. It simply means, for the most part, that each male will have only one female partner (and vice versa) every mating season. (Still ... adorable.)

13. Penguins often make excellent parents as well.

Both the adult male and female play big roles in hatching and rearing their young ones — like this couple of Gentoo penguins at the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago.

Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images.

Gay penguins, too, have been known to be pretty damn good at raising their chicks together.

14. Unfortunately, like many animals, penguins have been harmed by humans.

Downtrodden penguins (just like those beach bums) are also a thing.

Photo by Stephane de Sakutin/AFP/Getty Images.

15. I bet you've heard of one major culprit: climate change.

Photo by Vanderlei Almeida/AFP/Getty Images.

A warming planet means penguins have lost (and are increasingly losing) important sea ice. Sea ice is vital because that's where penguins breed and hunt for food.

16. When sea ice disappears, penguin populations shrink. Big time.

Photo by Vanderlei Almeida/AFP/Getty Images.

A 2014 study found that by the end of this century, at least two-thirds of the world's emperor penguin colonies will have shrunk by more than half if temperatures creep up as predicted.

17. Humans are also infringing on penguins' food chains.

Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images.

When we overfish the oceans, it doesn't bode well for their diets. How would you feel if penguins starting binge-eating all of our food? (OK, weird visual. But you get the picture.)

18. Protecting penguins isn't just about penguins.

Photo by Stephane de Sakutin/AFP/Getty Images.

19. Penguins help keep our entire world in balance.

Seriously, no joke.

Photo by Jewel Samad/AFP/Getty Images.

As the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History points out, protecting penguins is vital in keeping our ecosystems in check:

"Penguins do far more than make us smile, however; they also play important roles in ecosystems both in the ocean and on land. Penguins — adults, young and eggs — serve as food for predators such as leopard seals and seabirds in cold areas, along with foxes, leopards, and even crabs in warmer climates. By chasing after fish, squid and krill, they affect prey populations wherever they hunt. They carry nutrients between land and sea, and enrich both with their feces. Some burrowing species even modify the landscape as they dig nests into the ground."

20. Bottom line: Penguins are interesting, adorable, and important creatures.

Especially this penguin chick. This one speaks to me.

Photo by Jennifer Bruce/AFP/Getty Images.

21. So let's remember to protect our friends with flippers down south.

Because in more ways than one, they make our world a better place.

Photo by Paula Bronstein/Getty Images.

Images courtesy of Letters of Love
True

When Grace Berbig was 7 years old, her mom was diagnosed with leukemia, a cancer of the body’s blood-forming tissues. Being so young, Grace didn’t know what cancer was or why her mother was suddenly living in the hospital. But she did know this: that while her mom was in the hospital, she would always be assured that her family was thinking of her, supporting her and loving her every step of her journey.

Nearly every day, Grace and her two younger sisters would hand-make cards and fill them with drawings and messages of love, which their mother would hang all over the walls of her hospital room. These cherished letters brought immeasurable peace and joy to their mom during her sickness. Sadly, when Grace was just 10 years old, her mother lost her battle with cancer.“

Image courtesy of Letters of Love

Losing my mom put the world in a completely different perspective for me,” Grace says. “I realized that you never know when someone could leave you, so you have to love the people you love with your whole heart, every day.”

Grace’s father was instrumental in helping in the healing process of his daughters. “I distinctly remember my dad constantly reminding my two little sisters, Bella and Sophie, and I that happiness is a choice, and it was now our job to turn this heartbreaking event in our life into something positive.”

When she got to high school, Grace became involved in the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and a handful of other organizations. But she never felt like she was doing enough.

“I wanted to create an opportunity for people to help beyond donating money, and one that anyone could be a part of, no matter their financial status.”

In October 2018, Grace started Letters of Love, a club at her high school in Long Lake, Minnesota, to emotionally support children battling cancer and other serious illnesses through letter-writing and craft-making.


Image courtesy of Letters of Love

Much to her surprise, more than 100 students showed up for the first club meeting. From then on, Letters of Love grew so fast that during her senior year in high school, Grace had to start a GoFundMe to help cover the cost of card-making materials.

Speaking about her nonprofit today, Grace says, “I can’t find enough words to explain how blessed I feel to have this organization. Beyond the amount of kids and families we are able to support, it allows me to feel so much closer and more connected to my mom.”

Since its inception, Letters of Love has grown to more than 25 clubs with more than 1,000 members providing emotional support to more than 60,000 patients in children’s hospitals around the world. And in the process it has become a full-time job for Grace.

“I do everything from training volunteers and club ambassadors, paying bills, designing merchandise, preparing financial predictions and overviews, applying for grants, to going through each and every card ensuring they are appropriate to send out to hospitals.”

Image courtesy of Letters of Love

In addition to running Letters of Love, Grace and her small team must also contend with the emotions inherent in their line of work.

“There have been many, many tears cried,” she says. “Working to support children who are battling cancer and other serious and sometimes chronic illnesses can absolutely be extremely difficult mentally. I feel so blessed to be an organization that focuses solely on bringing joy to these children, though. We do everything we can to simply put a smile on their face, and ensure they know that they are so loved, so strong, and so supported by people all around the world.”

Image courtesy of Letters of Love

Letters of Love has been particularly instrumental in offering emotional support to children who have been unable to see friends and family due to COVID-19. A video campaign in the summer of 2021 even saw members of the NFL’s Minnesota Vikings and the NHL’s Minnesota Wild offer short videos of hope and encouragement to affected children.

Grace is currently taking a gap year before she starts college so she can focus on growing Letters of Love as well as to work on various related projects, including the publication of a children’s book.

“The goal of the book is to teach children the immense impact that small acts of kindness can have, how to treat their peers who may be diagnosed with disabilities or illness, and how they are never too young to change the world,” she says.

Since she was 10, Grace has kept memories of her mother close to her, as a source of love and inspiration in her life and in the work she does with Letters of Love.

Image courtesy of Grace Berbig

“When I lost my mom, I felt like a section of my heart went with her, so ever since, I have been filling that piece with love and compassion towards others. Her smile and joy were infectious, and I try to mirror that in myself and touch people’s hearts as she did.”

For more information visit Letters of Love.

Please donate to Grace’s GoFundMe and help Letters of Love to expand, publish a children’s book and continue to reach more children in hospitals around the world.

This article originally appeared on November 11, 2015


Remember those beloved Richard Scarry books from when you were a kid?

Like a lot of people, I grew up reading them. And now, I read them to my kids.

The best!

If that doesn't ring a bell, perhaps this character from the "Busytown" series will. Classic!

Image via

Scarry was an incredibly prolific children's author and illustrator. He created over 250 books during his career. His books were loved across the world — over 100 million were sold in many languages.

But here's something you may not have known about these classics: They've been slowly changing over the years.

Don't panic! They've been changing in a good way.

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Images courtesy of AFutureSuperhero and Friends and Balance Dance Project
True

The day was scorching hot, but the weather wasn’t going to stop a Star Wars Stormtrooper from handing out school supplies to a long line of eager children. “You guys don’t have anything illegal back there - any droids or anything?” the Stormtrooper asks, making sure he was safe from enemies before handing over a colorful backpack to a smiling boy.

The man inside the costume is Yuri Williams, founder of AFutureSuperhero And Friends, a Los Angeles nonprofit that uplifts and inspires marginalized people with small acts of kindness.

Yuri’s organization is one of four inaugural grant winners from the Upworthy Kindness Fund, a joint initiative between Upworthy and GoFundMe that celebrates kindness and everyday actions inspired by the best of humanity. This year, the Upworthy Kindness Fund is giving $100,000 to grassroots changemakers across the world.

To apply, campaign organizers simply tell Upworthy how their kindness project is making a difference. Between now and the end of 2021, each accepted individual or organization will receive $500 towards an existing GoFundMe and a shout-out on Upworthy.

Meet the first four winners:

1: Balance Dance Project: This studio aims to bring accessible dance to all in the Sacramento, CA area. Lead fundraiser Miranda Macias says many dancers spend hours a day at Balance practicing contemporary, lyrical, hip-hop, and ballet. Balance started a GoFundMe to raise money to cover tuition for dancers from low-income communities, buy dance team uniforms, and update its facility. The $500 contribution from the Kindness Fund nudged Balance closer to its $5,000 goal.

2: Citizens of the World Mar Vista Robotics Team: In Los Angeles, middle school teacher James Pike is introducing his students to the field of robotics via a Lego-building team dedicated to solving real-world problems.

James started a GoFundMe to crowdfund supplies for his students’ team ahead of the First Lego League, a school-against-school matchup that includes robotics competitions. The team, James explained, needed help to cover half the cost of the pricey $4,000 robotics kit. Thanks to help from the Upworthy Kindness Fund and the generosity of the Citizens of the World Middle School community, the team exceeded its initial fundraising goal.

Citizens of the World Mar Vista Robotics Team video update youtu.be

3: Black Fluidity Tattoo Club: Kiara Mills and Tann Parker want to fix a big problem in the tattoo industry: there are too few Black tattoo artists. To tackle the issue, the duo founded the Black Fluidity Tattoo Club to inspire and support Black tattooers. While the Brooklyn organization is open to any Black person, Kiara and Tann specifically want to encourage dark-skinned artists to train in an affirming space among people with similar identities.

To make room for newcomers, the club recently moved into a larger studio with a third station for apprentices or guest artists. Unlike a traditional fundraiser that supports the organization exclusively, Black Fluidity Tattoo Club will distribute proceeds from GoFundMe directly to emerging Black tattoo artists who are starting their own businesses. The small grants, supported in part with a $500 contribution from the Upworthy Kindness Fund, will go towards artists’ equipment, supplies, furnishings, and other start-up costs.

4: AFutureSuperhero And Friends’ “Hope For The Holidays”: Founder Yuri Williams is fundraising for a holiday trip to spread cheer to people in need across all fifty states.

Along with collaborator Rodney Smith Jr., Yuri will be handing out gifts to children, adults, and animals dressed as a Star Wars’ Stormtrooper, Spiderman, Deadpool, and other movie or comic book characters. Starting this month, the crew will be visiting children with disabilities or serious illnesses, bringing leashes and toys to animal shelters for people taking home a new pet, and spreading blessings to unhoused people—all while in superhero costume. This will be the third time Yuri and his nonprofit have taken this journey.

AFutureSuperhero started a GoFundMe in July to cover the cost of gifts as well as travel expenses like hotels and rental cars. To help the nonprofit reach its $15,000 goal, the Upworthy Kindness Fund contributed $500 towards this good cause.

Think you qualify for the fund? Tell us how you’re bringing kindness to your community. Grants will be awarded on a rolling basis from now through the end of 2021. For questions and more information, please check out our FAQ's and the Kindness Toolkit for resources on how to start your own kindness fundraiser.

Images from Denver Animal Shelter's Facebook page.

Imagine rummaging through secondhand finds in your local thrift store, only to find that some items include a bonus feline at no extra charge.

Montequlla the orange tabby had somehow not gotten the memo that he and his family were moving. As they dropped off furniture, including a big recliner chair, to the Denver Arc Thrift Store on New Year’s Eve, they had no idea that poor little Montequlla was tucked away inside.

Luckily, the staff began to notice the chair meowing.

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"Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" (1937) and actor Peter Dinklage.

On Tuesday, Upworthy reported that actor Peter Dinklage was unhappy with Disney’s decision to move forward with a live-action version of “Snow White and the Seven Drawfs” starring Rachel Zegler.

Dinklage praised Disney’s inclusive casting of the “West Side Story” actress, whose mother is of Colombian descent, but pointed out that, at the same time, the company was making a film that promotes damaging stereotypes about people with dwarfism.

"There's a lot of hypocrisy going on, I've gotta say, from being somebody who's a little bit unique," Dinklage told Marc Maron on his “WTF” podcast.

"Well, you know, it's really progressive to cast a—literally no offense to anybody, but I was a little taken aback by, they were very proud to cast a Latino actress as Snow White," Dinklage said, "but you're still telling the story of 'Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.' Take a step back and look at what you're doing there.”

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