These bougie penguins are just as mad about inflation as you are

Soaring prices forced a Japanese aquarium to switch to cheaper alternatives, and the birds are pissed.

Penguin Stand in Their Enclosure at Asahiyama Zoo in Asahikawa City Hokkaido Prefecture 09 December ...
Everett Kennedy Brown/EPA/Shutterstock
Let the Penguins Eat

To say that inflation is bad right now would be like saying the Supreme Court has a couple of morally devoid white men on the bench — a major understatement. The price of everything from meat to gas is considerably higher than it was just a few months ago, and it turns out humans aren’t the only species paying the price: Penguins at a Japanese aquarium are being fed cheaper fish, and they are not fucking with it at all.

A recent viral video from ANNnewsCH taken at Hakone-en Aquarium outside of Tokyo shows the penguins turning their faces away from zookeepers who are desperately trying to feed them a cheaper alternative to their usual aji, or Japanese horse mackerel. The aquarium had to change the birds’ diet after the price of aji rose by 20% to 30%, per CNN, and the animals have definitely noticed.

Some of the penguins who did accept the cheaper mackerel ended up spitting them back out, per VICE News. Aquarium keeper Hiroki Shimamoto told CNN affiliate TV Asahi that one of the most effective ways to get the penguins to eat the new mackerel was to mix some of it with their usual, bougie as hell aji. “Ideally, they would like to have a full aji, but they are patiently eating mackerel,” Shimamoto said. Respect.

Hakone-en Aquarium isn’t only cutting costs on its animals’ meals; they’re also saving on electricity by reducing the number of circulation pumps in the aquarium, according to CNN. It’s all part of an effort to keep their entry fees affordable for guests, especially considering the cost of living in Japan has soared in recent months due to factors like Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and pandemic-related supply chain issues.

This is just the latest example of how intertwined the global economy is: Decisions by Russian politicians can end up affecting the diets of penguins in Japan. We’re all entering a rationing mindset right now, but hopefully we won’t be in this for too much longer, because those penguins refusing to eat is starting to stress me out. Shimamoto did assure VICE News that the pickiest among the birds will still get fed their fancy food — but I’d really prefer they get over their mackerel aversions and be a little more empathetic toward the zookeepers. In this economy, something’s gotta give.