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A happy feat for penguins

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Forget polar bears. This winter's "it" critter is unquestionably the penguin.

"Penguins have always been a popular animal, but they do seem to be taking the nation by storm," says Christina Slager, curator of the penguin exhibit at California's Monterey Bay Aquarium.

America's love affair with penguins stretches from Hollywood to publishing to the Internet. First came March of the Penguins in 2005, which won the Oscar for best documentary. Now Happy Feet, an animated movie about a penguin who can't stop dancing, is filling theaters. The film was No. 1 at the box office three weeks in a row and has been nominated for a Golden Globe.

"I think it's because penguins are incredibly charismatic," Slager says. "There's also their funny-looking upright stance, their inquisitive nature, their quirky behaviors."

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