Spike the Cotswolds penguin named as best in the world

  • Watch Spike the King Penguin ruling the roost at Birdland

A penguin from the Cotswolds has become the world's most popular flightless bird after reaching the finals of a global competition.

Spike is a King Penguin at Birdland Park and Gardens in Bourton-on-the-Water.

The local celebrity penguin has more than 15,000 Facebook followers and has already seen off competitors from as far afield as Australia, America and Canada in the Penguins International ‘March of The Penguins Madness’ challenge.

Birdland’s head keeper, Al Keen said: "March of the Penguins Madness is all about raising awareness of the plight of penguins out in the wild as unfortunately there are 18 species alive today and 14 of them are in big big trouble".

Spike was up against an African penguin called Mai from the Hyatt Regency Maui Resort & Spa in Hawaii, but on Thursday evening Spike was announced as the winner of a public vote.

Over the years Spike has become one of the country’s best-known penguins with a starring role alongside the legendary Sir David Attenborough as part of the Natural Curiosities series. Among his other television highlights are Penguins Make You Laugh Out Loud and Junior Vets. He’s also featured on Escape to the Country and starred in adverts for LG and an Icelandic bank.

In addition to his television work, Spike has appeared in numerous calendars, on greetings cards and even had a double page spread in a natural history book.

'Not looking his best'

At the moment Spike and his friends are moulting which explains why they might not be looking their best.

Al said": "This time of year they moult and get ready for breeding the old feathers are pushed out, making way for new ones to come through so they don't get a bald patch and freeze in the wild.

"We’ve been overwhelmed with the support Spike has got."