It’s not often one has the opportunity to encounter Antarctic penguins in the wild.
Aside from the obvious setbacks — who the hell goes to Antarctica? — the animals are typically wary of humans and tend to keep a safe distance when confronted by people.
So when Joel Oleson arrived at a penguin rookery on a beach in Antarctica as part of a private tour, he assumed he’d only be able to observe the cold-loving creatures from a safe distance. But that wasn’t the case.
Per the instructions of his tour guide, Oleson lay down on the rocks in an effort to appear small (and thus less intimidating) to the penguins.
It worked: After just a few minutes, the baby penguins became curious. One approached the native Californian, nuzzling his face and curiously prodding the man with its fuzzy flippers.
I was thinking ‘I need to be very still so I don’t scare them.’ At one point, a baby penguin was pecking my forehead and face. I was filled with feelings of wonder and awe.
Though the 41-year-old admits he’s encountered penguins in the wild before, this baby’s friendliness and fearlessness took him by surprise.
Luckily, Oleson managed to immortalize the magical moment: He discreetly filmed his encounter with the baby penguin.
See the amazing footage up top.