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11 Intense Facts About Hostel

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Hostel, a horror film about a group of college-aged backpackers who stay at a hostel in Slovakia, had a budget of $4.8 million but grossed $80,578,934 worldwide, helping to revitalize the “torture porn” genre of the late 1990s and mid-aughts. Written and directed by Eli Roth and executive-produced by Quentin Tarantino, the 2005 film is known for its intense sex and violence. Though the film takes places in Slovakia, it was filmed in the Czech Republic.

The movie proved to be successful enough that it led to two sequels: Hostel: Part II was released in 2007 with a similar premise (it grossed much less than its predecessor), and Hostel: Part III—which Roth wasn’t involved with it—takes place in Vegas and went straight to DVD in 2011. Here a 11 grotesque facts about the horror film.

1. THE PREMISE FOR HOSTEL CAME FROM A DISTURBING WEBSITE.

Ain’t It Cool News founder Harry Knowles told Roth about a website where you pay $10,000 to go to Thailand and shoot a stranger in the head for sport. “The site claimed that the person you were killing had signed up for it and that part of the money would go to their family because they were so broke and were gonna die anyway,” Roth told Dread Central. “It was to give you the thrill of taking another human life.” Roth didn’t know if the site was real, and at one point he wanted to make a documentary about it, but decided against it. “My point was like, well, somebody thought of it. That’s f*cked up. Someone is thinking about this and went so far as to create a website about it.” 

In writing the script, Roth used real-life debauchery as an inspiration. “I saw parallels between guys I knew who would go to Europe or even go to Vegas and go, ‘Yeah, we’re gonna go get hookers and do drugs,’ or ‘We’re gonna go to Amsterdam,’ and it’s kind of this American thing of going abroad and doing all these things you’re not supposed to do. That’s why I made Amsterdam purposefully look like an X-rated Disneyland.”

2. QUENTIN TARANTINO TALKED ELI ROTH INTO MAKING HOSTEL.

After Roth’s feature debut, Cabin Fever, was a hit, Roth wasn’t sure which project to take on next. Tarantino loved Cabin Fever and invited Roth over to his house to hang out with him.

“I said to Quentin, ‘You know, I kind of just don’t know what to do now,” Roth told Dread Central. “'I’m at this weird place where I’m being offered to direct studio movies.' And he’s like, ‘Well, what ideas are you working on?’ I told him, this and this and this, and I said, ‘Well, then there’s this other thing,’ and I told him the idea for Hostel and he was like, ‘Are you f*cking kidding me? That’s the sickest f*cking idea I have ever heard. You’ve got to do that. F*ck it. Do it low-budget. Go to Europe and make it as sick as you want to make it … This could be your Takashi Miike film. This could be a classic American horror movie.’” Miike, who directed the 1999 Japanese torture porn film Audition, has a cameo in Hostel.

3. ELI ROTH CAST JAY HERNANDEZ BECAUSE OF HIS EVERYMAN LOOK.

Jay Hernandez plays Paxton, and of course gets tortured. Roth didn’t want a pretty boy actor, and responded to Hernandez’s realness. “I wanted people who felt like guys I went to college with, grew up with, people that I know,” Roth told Dread Central. “The thing about Jay is he’s really like a real guy. He has that quality, that very natural style of acting. You don’t feel like he’s acting. He’s just somebody who throws himself in the role. What I also felt about Jay was that he was willing to make himself vulnerable. A lot of those guys want to be macho and tough all the time, they don’t want to sit there and be crying like a baby when they’re about to die in a movie, and Jay was willing to do that."

4. SLOVAKIA WASN’T HAPPY WITH THE WAY ROTH DEPICTED THEIR COUNTRY.

The premise of Americans being tortured and killed in Slovakia rankled the Eastern European country so much that Roth held a press conference to assuage the Slovakians, who felt the image portrayed in the film would prevent tourists from visiting their country. "In talking to Americans, I realized they have absolutely no idea that Slovakia exists,” Roth said. “The latest statistics I found was that 12 percent of Americans own a passport. Twelve percent. They do not travel, but they think they own the world, and their dollar will buy everything. So Slovakia in the movie, it’s not really Slovakia. It’s Movie Slovakia, and it’s based on American stereotypes.”

Despite the way Americans view the country in the movie, Roth thought the Americans were doing much worse things than the Europeans. “These people get punished for these beliefs. But if you look closely at the film, the people who are actually doing the worst things are other Americans … And I think anyone who’s protesting against the movie probably hasn’t seen it, because anyone who’d seen the movie from Slovakia would say this is so obviously set in Prague. How could they take this seriously?”

5. THE CAB DRIVER IN HOSTEL WAS TOO DRUNK TO ACT.

In the script, the travelers arrive via cab to the hostel. Before shooting the scene, the man who was supposed to play the cab driver showed up to the set quite drunk. “I heard the cab driver got so drunk that we couldn’t film a single goddamn scene with him, and we have our stuntman doubling him,” Roth told the actors in a making of Hostel documentary. “That’s probably even better if he’s sh*tfaced,” Hernandez said to Roth, but Roth disagreed: “Yeah, but he’ll go into the river. He can’t put his feet on the pedal. He’s really loaded.” Instead of having the cab driver walk out of the car and take the kids’ bags of out the trunk, Roth changed the scene to have the kids hold the bags on their laps.

6. IN THE ORIGINAL ENDING OF HOSTEL, THE DUTCH BUSINESSMAN LIVED.

The Director’s Cut ending involved Hernandez kidnapping the businessman’s daughter and taking her on a train, with the businessman watching helplessly. “In the original script that I wrote, Jay slit the little girl’s throat,” Roth told MTV. “I ultimately didn’t buy that, that the character would do it. Instead, by taking the little girl, he knew that would torture that guy. But [test audiences] got caught up in the logic of what happens to the girl [after the train leaves], and that’s what I didn’t want to have happen.” The theatrical release ending has Hernandez sneaking into the train station bathroom and slitting the man’s throat.

7. THE CHARACTER OF ÓLI WAS BASED ON A REAL ICELANDER.

Óli, the Icelander in Hostel, is played by Eythor Gudjonsson, whom Roth met while living in Iceland. “We went out, and he was insane,” Roth told Dread Central. “I had never met anyone like him, and I thought, ‘This guy has to be in a movie.’” Roth wrote the part for Gudjonsson because he felt that not enough Icelanders were included in movies. “I know Björk is there, and we saw her when we were there,” Roth said. “She’s perfectly nice, but she didn’t strike me as the people that I’ve met in Iceland as a typical Icelander. Whereas Eythor, that’s what they’re like.”

Roth, Tarantino, and Gudjonsson attended the film’s premiere in Iceland, where they received a dinner from the Minister of Culture. “I got to issue a formal apology to the Minister of Culture for ruining Icelandic culture, which he accepted,” Roth said. “Then we met the president of Iceland and I asked him for a presidential pardon for ruining Iceland all over the world and he actually said, ‘Well, you know, your character is pretty accurate so I’ll give you the pardon.’”

8. BLOODY DISGUSTING THINKS HOSTEL IS ABOUT 9/11.

In a tenth-anniversary editorial on Hostel, the website Bloody Disgusting expressed parallels between 9/11 and the movie. “Paxton represents the United States pre, during, and post-9/11. He was relatively innocent and excited about the future while traveling through Europe. Then he was attacked and maimed in the factory. And in the end he managed to emerge victorious, defeating the man responsible for his suffering. Yet he still couldn’t go back to how he was before. Too much had changed for him.”

9. STEPHEN KING IS A FAN OF HOSTEL: PART II.

In a 2007 interview with the Los Angeles Times, Stephen King discussed his feelings toward torture porn. “I understand ‘torture porn,’ he said. “It’s a good phrase. But I would argue with you, there’s a fine line there ... There’s something going on in Hostel: Part II that isn’t torture porn, there’s really something going on there that’s interesting on an artistic basis. Sure, it makes you uncomfortable, but good art should make you uncomfortable.”

10. ROTH APPEASED THE RATINGS BOARD WITH “OPERATIC” VIOLENCE.

In the U.S., Hostel passed the ratings board, but Germany, Japan, the Ukraine, and Singapore either censored the film or refused to release it into theaters. “I said to the ratings board, ‘This is not worse than Apocalypto. Look at Passion of the Christ—there’s a lengthy torture scene,” Roth told The Evening Class. “There’s intense movies out there and the audience needs something that’s not going to be safe. There is an audience for this and let’s protect it.’ And they did. I explained to [the ratings board], ‘Look how I approach every scene.’ When I knew it was violence with a child, I shot it off camera. Guys in the movie are getting it as bad as girls, if not worse, and when there is a scene with a girl, I filmed it in an operatic, cinematic kind of way so at least you’re aware it’s a scene from a movie. [The ratings board] recognized that and they defended that. They said, ‘You know what? Eli didn’t just randomly approach these scenes; he really thought about it. Let’s give him a break.’”

11. ROTH THEORIZES THAT WATCHING THE HOSTEL MOVIES CAN LEAD TO ROMANCE.

Roth told MTV that some people who saw Hostel in the theaters threw up, but others got romantic. “Another report is that a lot of people get [lucky] watching Hostel. I swear to God, people have told me that they brought a date to see the movie, and then the date is grabbing their hand, and they had their head buried in their date’s chest the whole time. The girl was too freaked out, she didn’t want to go home alone, and the guy brought her home, and it was like, ‘Yeah, it worked out. I closed the deal.’ So I do think that nine months from now we will have … some Hostel babies.”

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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
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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.

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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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