Penguin holidays are perfect p-p-p-pick me up for Julia

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By Jenna Raffaelli

A woman is so fond of penguins that she has travelled thousands of miles just to visit them in different colonies.

Julie Odell, 43, has been as far afield New Zealand, the Falkland Islands and even Antarctica to see the birds in their natural habitat.

Her home in Edinburgh – which has penguin figures on the gate – is stuffed full of cuddly toys, fridge magnets and pictures.

PICK ME UP: Julie Odell with King penguins in the Falklands
PICK ME UP: Julie Odell with King penguins in the Falklands

Julie, a former nurse, spends hours watching Gentoo penguins at Edinburgh Zoo via a webcam and hopes to travel to see them at the Galapagos islands.

She said: “I just love these funny little birds. They are so unusual.”

But it takes huge patience and dedication to catch sight of the birds.

She said: “In the South Island of New Zealand I would wait for hours in a chilly bird hide to see the illusive yellow-eyed penguin come in from the sea. I also saw African penguins on Boulders Beach in South Africa and Gentoo penguins in Antarctica and South Georgia.”

Her favorite holiday so far was her 2008 trip to The Falkland Islands.

She said: “I would never have gone all the way to The Falkland Islands if there hadn’t been penguins.

“When I was there I visited six of the outer laying islands where I saw Gentoo penguins, King penguins, Rockhopper and Magellanic penguins.

“I had the most fantastic time.”

As well as travelling miles to see them, Julie has her own little collection of penguins at home.

She said: “On one of my walls at home there is nothing but photos and pictures of penguins.

Gate

“Family and friends always buy me things like soft toys, magnets, tiles, games, books and stationery.

“They know how much I love them.”

And visitors to Julies home can tell she is a penguin fan before they even get to the front door.

She said: “The one thing I had specifically made was my front gate. It needed to be replaced so when the welder offered to put in penguin silhouettes I thought it was a great idea. “

Although Julie has been on many trips aboard to see her fishy friends, there are still more place she would like to venture.

She said: “I would love one day to go to the Galapagos Islands to see the Northerly penguins.

“I would also love to see the Emperor penguins but this is an impossible dream as they live in the deepest Antarctica.”

Julie is a regular visitor to the penguin area at Edinburgh Zoo.

She said: “I have a membership at the zoo but ever since they hooked up a webcam to the Gentoo penguin area, I can see them whenever I like.

“At some point I would love to volunteer at the zoo and share my knowledge, but I never seem to have the time.”

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