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NIAGARA FALLS – With their comical waddles and sleek, tuxedoed looks, penguins can make inviting photo subjects.

That’s why the Aquarium of Niagara is now inviting photo submissions for a contest to help celebrate the popular aquatic birds.

The first-prize winner in the contest will earn a meet-and-greet with a penguin.

Second prize will be an 8-by- 10-inch unframed penguin art piece from the Aquarium. Honorable mention will earn a 4 x 6 inch art piece.

Winners in the contest will be showcased during a Penguin Days Celebration to be held March 23-24 at the aquarium.

Contestants are allowed to submit up to five photos of penguins – taken locally or anywhere around the world – for their entry. Deadline for the photo submissions is Wednesday. All entries will be returned.

“Most of the photos submitted to us have been taken by locals who take photos here, but we did have someone once who went to the Antarctic and took pictures of other species,” recalled Dan Arcara, supervisor of exhibits for the aquarium.

The aquarium boasts 10 Humboldt penguins, Arcara said.

These include William, who dates back to the aquarium’s original colony settlement in 1978, as well as 7-year-old Bobbi, a female, and Chile, a male.

William is at least 38 years old, but his exact age is undetermined because he was an adult when he was brought to Niagara, Arcara explained.

“They generally live 15 to 18 years in the wild, and much longer in captivity,” Arcara said of the penguins.

Arcara promised many more interesting penguin facts during the celebration, which he called “a very popular event” for the aquarium, typically drawing close to 2,000 visitors over the two-day span.

“The Humboldt penguins are from Peru and northern Chile – from a warmer climate,” he said. “Most people think of snow and ice and cold when they think of penguins because of what we see in the media and in movies, but of the 18 known species of penguins, only a half-dozen are from the Antarctic region. The rest are from warmer climates in South America, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa.”

In order to be part of the contest, all photographs must have the entrant’s name on the back of the photo with location and title. The contest is not open to aquarium employees or their immediate family members.

Photograph submissions must be no smaller than 5 by 7 and no larger than 8 by 10 inches. Digital images may be submitted at 300 dpi or greater.

Photos may be mailed to the Aquarium of Niagara, Exhibits Dept., 701 Whirlpool St., Niagara Falls, NY 14305.

For more information, contact the Exhibits Department at 285-3575, Ext. 211, or email aonaquarium@aim.com.