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11 Historical Firsts on Mount Everest

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By Lauren Hansen

In 1953, adventurist Edmund Hillary and his Sherpa guide Tenzing Norgay became the first men to reach the summit of Mount Everest. Ever since, the world's tallest mountain has been calling out to thrill-seekers of all shapes and sizes. More than 3,800 people have attempted to conquer its icy mountain face, and while at least 225 people have died trying, men and women, the blind and the handicapped, the old and the young have all reached it's 29,029-foot peak. But these intrepid folks don't just come for the climb — they also seek to make Mount Everest history. Check out these 11 Mount Everest firsts:

1. First teen with Down syndrome

Last month, 16-year-old Eli Reimer successfully climbed the 17,598 feet to Mt. Everest's Base Camp. This is impressive not only because he accomplished as a teenager what millions of adults would never even consider, but also because Reimer is the first teen with Down syndrome to achieve the feat. The Oregon teen made the 70-mile trek with his father and a team of seven to the Himalayan mountain's staging area to raise money and awareness for disabled children. "It's monumental," said the boy's father. "When everyone else was dragging, it was Eli who led the way to the base camp." While he comes close, Reimer is actually not the youngest to take on Everest. In 2010, then-13-year-old Jordan Romero became the youngest person to reach Everest's peak.

2. First 76-year-old

A 76-year-old Nepalese man named Min Bahadur Sherchan reached Everest's peak on May 25, 2008. It was Sherchan's first attempt, and he said he was determined to "climb the peak or die trying." Close behind him in both age and timing was Yuichiro Miura, a 75-year-old Japanese man who reached the summit the very next day to become the second-oldest Everest climber. In 2002, 73-year-old Tamae Watanabe — a retired office worker who lives at the foot of Japan's tallest mountain, Mount Fuji — became the oldest woman to reach the summit.

3. First under nine hours

Sometimes getting to the mountain's peak is less impressive than how quickly you do it. The harrowing climb from the foot of the base camp to the summit usually takes four days, if weather is on your side. But in 2004, stellar Sherpa guide Pem Dorjee covered the same trek in a record 8 hours and 10 minutes. This was actually the second time he earned the title for fastest ascent. In 2003, Dorjee held the record for his 12-hour-and-45-minute ascent for three days until another Sherpa beat his time by just under two hours.

4. First woman to summit

Junko Tabei may appear slight, almost fragile looking, but the Japanese mountaineer has a steely determination that helped her to become the first woman to reach Everest's apex. In 1975, Tabei was chosen as one of 15 in the first all-female team to take on the mountain. But only a few days into the journey, the expedition was hit by an avalanche. The team and its Sherpas were buried underneath, and Tabei was knocked unconscious for several minutes before a Sherpa dug her out. But the diminutive climber persevered, becoming the first of her group to reach the top on May 16, 1975. Just 11 days later, a 37-year-old Tibetan woman named Phantog became the second woman to make it to the top.

5. First-ever rock concert

In 2007, a cancer awareness group from Colorado reached the greatest of musical heights with a first-ever performance on Everest's rocky mountain face. The Love Hope Strength Foundation led a team of 40 musicians, cancer survivors, and mountaineers to the 18,600-foot peak of Kala Patthar, situated just above Everest Base Camp. After a fourteen-day trek, the "Everest Rocks" journey culminated in an acoustic concert that raised money for the Nepal Cancer Relief Society.

6. First amputees

In 1998, Tom Whittaker, a 49-year-old college instructor from Arizona, reached the world's tallest peak on his third try. Whittaker, who lost his leg in a car crash in 1979, managed the climb with a specially designed artificial leg that is lightweight and has its own crampons—claw-like boot attachments climbers use to stay secure on the icy mountain. Eight years later, Everest got its first double amputee. A New Zealand mountaineer named Mark Inglis — who lost both his legs beneath the knee from frostbite in 1982 during a climbing incident — reached the summit on May 16, 2006. "I'm not doing this to be the first double amputee," the 47-year-old said, "If I am, then it's the icing on the cake."

7. First swim across a glacial lake 

For at least one brave soul, Everest's draw is its icy waters. In 2010, 40-year-old environmentalist Lewis Pugh became the first person to swim across Everest's Pumori Lake. Situated at about 17,000 feet, the lake waters are a balmy 36 degrees Fahrenheit. Lewis is an avid "polar bear" swimmer, meaning he braves waters that could put up a good fight in hell. But the Everest swim, for which Pugh wore only swim trunks, a cap, and goggles, required a delicate balance. If he swam too quickly he could lose energy and drown; but if he moved too slowly he could succumb to hypothermia. "Because of the altitude you need to swim very slowly and deliberately," he said. "I was gasping for air and if I had swum any faster I would have gone under." In the end, Pugh breast-stroked across the 0.62-mile lake in 22 minutes and 51 seconds, which was just right.

8. First blind person

Erik Weihenmayer lost his sight because of a rare disease at the age of 13. But that didn't stop him from exploring the world. The Colorado native took up climbing at 16, and by 32 he had already climbed some of the world's tallest peaks, including Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. And in 2001, he conquered Everest, by following the sound of bells tied to the jackets of his climbing mates and Sherpa guides. Weihenmayer went on to climb two more mountains.

9. First snowboarding descent

Everest isn't exactly a welcoming snowboarding trail. But despite the distinct lack of soft powder, two snowboarders attempted in 2001 to be the first to lay down tracks on that unforgiving mountain face. The two Europeans, Stephan Gatt and Marco Siffredi, snowboarded down Everest within two days of each other. However, it was Gatt who officially earned the title as the first to swowboard down Everest. If the feat itself weren't enough, the athlete carried all of his snowboarding equipment up the mountain, and did so without the aid of oxygen. Then, after locking in his bindings, Siffredi descended down the North Face of the mountain, about 600 feet below the summit. The extreme cold broke one of his bindings, temporarily halting him in his tracks, but he continued his approximately two-hour descent after a Sherpa came to his rescue. In 2000, a Slovenian ski teacher named Davo Karnicar was the first to ski from Everest's summit to its base. The attempt was actually his second — he was first thwarted by bad weather in 1996 — which he completed in five hours. Karnicar took only a few breaks and reportedly never removed his skis.

10. First cancer survivor

Sean Swarner has battled cancer not once, but twice. At 13 years old, Swarner was diagnosed with stage four Hodgkin's disease, and was given only three months to live. Swarner overcame the odds and his Hodgkin's went into remission, but tests a year later revealed a golf-ball-sized tumor on his right lung. If you can imagine it, this second prognosis — for Askin's sarcoma — was worse than the first, and he was given only two weeks to live. Swarner went through multiple surgeries, chemotherapy, and radiation over the years, and though he lost the use of one of his lungs, he came out on top. The same single-minded determination that pushed him through his illness propelled him toward Everest. On May 16, 2002, Swarner became the first cancer survivor to stand on the mountain's summit. Since that climb, Swarner has gone on to complete the "7-summits," the highest peaks in seven continents.

11. First back-to-back summits

I'm exhausted just thinking about this, but one young woman reached Everest's peak twice… in one week. Chhurim Sherpa dreamed of climbing Everest ever since she was in the fifth grade, when she saw tourists trekking their equipment through her village in northeastern Nepal. But the 29-year-old wanted to break records, and so she set out to complete back-to-back climbs. Her first ascent, made with a group of four other climbers, was on May 12, 2012. After standing on top of the world for 15 minutes, returning safely to base, and resting for two days, she made the journey again on May 17 with just her aide for company. On that second trip she climbed the steepest face while carrying more than 30 pounds of gear. Beyond her double climb, Chhurim remains in an elite group of only 21 Nepalese women who have reached Everest's peak. "I really want other Nepalese women to get involved in mountaineering," she said. "We should have a can-do attitude so that we can move forward and not be left behind simply because we're women."

SourcesAssociated Press (2), BBCCNNHuffington PostReuters (2), The Telegraph, USA TodayWBTV,The Week



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Lists
25 Royals in the Line of Succession to the British Throne
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Between the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge welcoming their third child on April 23, 2018 and Prince Harry's upcoming marriage to Suits star Meghan Markle in May, the line of succession to the British throne has become a topic of interest all over the world. And the truth is, it’s complicated. Though Queen Elizabeth II, who turned 92 years old on April 21, shows no signs of slowing down, here are the royals who could one day take her place on the throne—in one very specific order.

1. PRINCE CHARLES

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As a direct result of his mother being the world's longest-reigning monarch, Prince Charles—the eldest child of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip—is the longest serving heir to the throne; he became heir apparent in 1952, when his mother ascended to the throne.

2. PRINCE WILLIAM

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At 35 years old, odds are good that Prince William, Duke of Cambridge—the eldest son of Prince Charles and the late Princess Diana—will ascend to the throne at some point in his lifetime.

3. PRINCE GEORGE 

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On July 22, 2013, Prince William and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge welcomed their first child, Prince George of Cambridge, who jumped the line to step ahead of his uncle, Prince Harry, to become third in the line of succession.

4. PRINCESS CHARLOTTE 

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On May 2, 2015, William and Catherine added another member to their growing brood: a daughter, Princess Charlotte of Cambridge. Though her parents just welcomed a bouncing baby boy, she will maintain the fourth-in-line position because of the Succession to the Crown Act 2013, which went into effect just a few weeks before her arrival, and removed a long-held rule which stated that any male sibling (regardless of birth order) would automatically move ahead of her.

5. PRINCE OF CAMBRIDGE

 Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge depart the Lindo Wing with their newborn son at St Mary's Hospital on April 23, 2018 in London, England
Chris Jackson, Getty Images

On April 23, 2018, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge welcomed their third child—a son, whose name has yet to be announced, but who has already pushed his uncle, Prince Harry, out of the fifth position in line to the throne.

6. PRINCE HARRY

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As the second-born son of Prince Charles and Princess Diana, Prince Harry's place in the line is a regularly changing one. It changed earlier this week, when his brother William's third child arrived, and could change again if and when their family expands.

7. PRINCE ANDREW, DUKE OF YORK

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Prince Andrew is a perfect example of life before the Succession to the Crown Act 2013: Though he’s the second-born son of Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip, he’s actually their third child (Princess Anne came between him and Prince Charles). But because the rules gave preference to males, Prince Andrew would inherit the throne before his older sister.

8. PRINCESS BEATRICE OF YORK

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Because Prince Andrew and his ex-wife, Sarah, Duchess of York, had two daughters and no sons, none of that male-preference primogeniture stuff mattered in terms of their placement. But with each child her cousin Prince William has, Princess Beatrice moves farther away from the throne. If Beatrice looks familiar, it might be because of the headlines she made with the Dr. Seuss-like hat she wore to William and Catherine’s wedding. (The infamous topper later sold on eBay for more than $130,000, all of which went to charity.)

9. PRINCESS EUGENIE OF YORK

Princess Eugenie of York arrives in the parade ring during Royal Ascot 2017 at Ascot Racecourse on June 20, 2017 in Ascot, England
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Though she’s regularly seen at royal events, Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson’s youngest daughter spends the bulk of her time indulging her interest in fine art. She has held several jobs in the art world, and is currently a director at Hauser & Wirth’s London gallery.

10. PRINCE EDWARD, EARL OF WESSEX

 Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex leaves after a visit to Prince Philip
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Like his older brother Andrew, Prince Edward—the youngest son of Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip—jumps the line ahead of his older sister, Princess Anne, because of the older rule that put males ahead of females.

11. JAMES, VISCOUNT SEVERN

 James, Viscount Severn, rides on the fun fair carousel on day 4 of the Royal Windsor Horse Show on May 11, 2013 in Windsor, England
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James, Viscount Severn—the younger of Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex and Sophie, Countess of Wessex’s two children, and their only son—turned 10 years old on December 17, 2017, and celebrated it as the 10th royal in line of succession. (The birth of the youngest Prince of Cambridge pushed him back a spot.)

12. LADY LOUISE MOUNTBATTEN-WINDSOR

Lady Louise Windsor during the annual Trooping the Colour Ceremony at Buckingham Palace on June 15, 2013 in London, England.
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Because the Succession to the Crown Act 2013 wasn’t enacted until 2015, Lady Louise Mountbatten-Windsor—the older of Prince Edward’s two children—will always be just behind her brother in the line of succession.

13. PRINCESS ANNE, THE PRINCESS ROYAL

Princess Anne, Princess Royal, visits the Hambleton Equine Clinic on October 10, 2017 in Stokesley, England
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Princess Anne, the Queen and Prince Philip’s second-born child and only daughter, may never rule over the throne in her lifetime, but at least she gets to be called “The Princess Royal.”

14. PETER PHILLIPS

Peter Phillips poses for a photo on The Mall
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The eldest child and only son of Princess Anne and her first husband, Captain Mark Phillips, stands just behind his mother in line. Interesting fact: Had Phillips’s wife, Autumn Kelly, not converted from Roman Catholicism to the Church of England before their marriage in 2008, Phillips would have lost his place in line.

15. SAVANNAH PHILLIPS

Savannah Phillips attends a Christmas Day church service
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On December 29, 2010, Peter and Autumn Phillips celebrated the birth of their first child, Savannah Anne Kathleen Phillips, who is also the Queen’s first great-grandchild. She’s currently 15th in line.

16. ISLA PHILLIPS

Princess Anne, Princess Royal, Isla Phillips and Peter Phillips attend a Christmas Day church service
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Less than two years after Savannah, Peter and Autumn Phillips had a second daughter, Isla, who stands just behind her sister in line. It wasn’t until 2017 that Savannah and Isla made their Buckingham Palace balcony debut (in honor of their great-grandmother’s 91st birthday).

17. ZARA TINDALL

 Zara Tindall arrives for a reception at the Guildhall
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Not one to hide in the background, Zara Tindall—Princess Anne’s second child and only daughter—has lived much of her life in the spotlight. A celebrated equestrian, she won the Eventing World Championship in Aachen in 2006 and was voted BBC Sports Personality of the Year the same year (her mom earned the same title in 1971). She’s also Prince George’s godmother.

18. MIA TINDALL

Mike Tindall, Zara Tindall and their daughter Mia Tindall pose for a photograph during day three of The Big Feastival at Alex James' Farm on August 28, 2016 in Kingham, Oxfordshire.
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Zara Tindall’s daughter Mia may just be 4 years old, but she’s already regularly making headlines for her outgoing personality. And though she’s only 18th in line to the throne, her connection to the tippity top of the royal family is much closer: Prince William is her godfather.

19. DAVID ARMSTRONG-JONES, 2ND EARL OF SNOWDON

David Armstrong-Jones, 2nd Earl of Snowdon
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David Armstrong-Jones, the eldest child of Princess Margaret, isn’t waiting around to see if the British crown ever lands on his head. The 56-year-old, who goes by David Linley in his professional life, has made a name for himself as a talented furniture-maker. His bespoke pieces, sold under the brand name Linley, can be purchased through his own boutiques as well as at Harrods.

20. CHARLES ARMSTRONG-JONES, VISCOUNT LINLEY

Margarita Armstrong-Jones and Charles Patrick Inigo Armstrong-Jones
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David Armstrong-Jones’s only son, Charles, may be 20th in line to the throne, but the 18-year-old is the heir apparent to the Earldom of Snowdon.

21. LADY MARGARITA ARMSTRONG-JONES

Britain's Queen Elizabeth II (R) talks with Lady Margarita Armstrong-Jones (C) as her father David Armstrong-Jones (L), 2nd Earl of Snowdon, known as David Linley
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Lady Margarita Armstrong-Jones, the youngest child of David Armstrong-Jones and his only daughter, is also the only granddaughter of Princess Margaret. Now 15 years old (she'll turn 16 in June), Lady Margarita made headlines around the world in 2011 when she served as a flower girl at the wedding of Prince William and Catherine Middleton.

22. LADY SARAH CHATTO

Lady Sarah Chatto, the daughter of Princess Margaret arrives for her mother's memorial service
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Lady Sarah Chatto, Princess Margaret and Anthony Armstrong-Jones’s only daughter, is the youngest grandchild of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother. In addition to serving as a bridesmaid to Princess Diana, she is Prince Harry’s godmother.

23. SAMUEL CHATTO

Lady Sarah Chatto (L) and her son Samuel Chatto (R) leave a Service of Thanksgiving for the life and work of Lord Snowdon at Westminster Abbey on April 7, 2017 in London, United Kingdom
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The first-born son of Lady Sarah Chatto and her husband, Daniel, has a long way to go to reach the throne: He’s currently 23rd in line.

24. ARTHUR CHATTO

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For better or worse, Sarah and Daniel Chatto’s youngest son Arthur has become a bit of a social media sensation. He's made headlines recently as he regularly posts selfies to Instagram—some of them on the eyebrow-raising side, at least as far as royals go.

25. PRINCE RICHARD, DUKE OF GLOUCESTER

Prince Richard, Duke of Gloucester makes a speech during the unveiling ceremony of London's first public memorial to the Korean War on December 3, 2014 in London, England
Carl Court/Getty Images

At 73 years old, Prince Richard, Duke of Gloucester is the youngest grandchild of King George V and Queen Mary. Formerly, he made a living as an architect, until the 1972 death of his brother, Prince William of Gloucester, put him next in line to inherit his father’s dukedom. On June 10, 1974, he officially succeeded his father as Duke of Gloucester, Earl of Ulster, and Baron Culloden.

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20 Black-and-White Facts About Penguins
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To celebrate World Penguin Day (which is today, April 25), here are a few fun facts about these adorable tuxedoed birds.

1. All 17 species of penguins are found exclusively in the Southern Hemisphere.

2. Emperor Penguins are the tallest species, standing nearly 4 feet tall. The smallest is the Little Blue Penguin, which is only about 16 inches.

emperor penguin
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3. The fastest species is the Gentoo Penguin, which can reach swimming speeds up to 22 mph.

Gentoo Penguin
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4. A penguin's striking coloring is a matter of camouflage; from above, its black back blends into the murky depths of the ocean. From below, its white belly is hidden against the bright surface.

penguins swimming in the ocean
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5. Fossils place the earliest penguin relative at some 60 million years ago, meaning an ancestor of the birds we see today survived the mass extinction of the dinosaurs.

emperor penguins
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6. Penguins ingest a lot of seawater while hunting for fish, but a special gland behind their eyes—the supraorbital gland—filters out the saltwater from their blood stream. Penguins excrete it through their beaks, or by sneezing.

penguins swimming in the ocean
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7. Unlike most birds—which lose and replace a few feathers at a time—penguins molt all at once, spending two or three weeks land-bound as they undergo what is called the catastrophic molt.

molting penguin
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8. All but two species of penguins breed in large colonies of up to a thousand birds.

king penguins
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9. It varies by species, but many penguins will mate with the same member of the opposite sex season after season.

chinstrap penguins
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10. Similarly, most species are also loyal to their exact nesting site, often returning to the same rookery in which they were born.

maegellic penguin nesting
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11. Some species create nests for their eggs out of pebbles and loose feathers. Emperor Penguins are an exception: They incubate a single egg each breeding season on the top of their feet. Under a loose fold of skin is a featherless area with a concentration of blood vessels that keeps the egg warm.

penguin eggs
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12. In some species, it is the male penguin which incubates the eggs while females leave to hunt for weeks at a time. Because of this, pudgy males—with enough fat storage to survive weeks without eating—are most desirable.

emperor penguins
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13. Penguin parents—both male and female—care for their young for several months until the chicks are strong enough to hunt for food on their own.

Penguins nest
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14. If a female Emperor Penguin's baby dies, she will often "kidnap" an unrelated chick.

penguin chicks
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15. Despite their lack of visible ears, penguins have excellent hearing and rely on distinct calls to identify their mates when returning to the crowded breeding grounds.

16. The first published account of penguins comes from Antonio Pigafetta, who was aboard Ferdinand Magellan's first circumnavigation of the globe in 1520. They spotted the animals near what was probably Punta Tombo in Argentina. (He called them "strange geese.")

17. An earlier, anonymous diary entry from Vasco da Gama's 1497 voyage around the Cape of Good Hope makes mention of flightless birds as large as ducks.

18. Because they aren't used to danger from animals on solid ground, wild penguins exhibit no particular fear of human tourists.

19. Unlike most sea mammals—which rely on blubber to stay warm—penguins survive because their feathers trap a layer of warm air next to the skin that serves as insulation, especially when they start generating muscular heat by swimming around.

20. In the 16th century, the word penguin actually referred to great auks (scientific name: Pinguinus impennis), a now-extinct species that inhabited the seas around eastern Canada. When explorers traveled to the Southern Hemisphere, they saw black and white birds that resembled auks, and called them penguins.

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