Many people would like to be rewarded for getting out of bed, and for Elmo, one of the penguins at New Zealand's National Aquarium, that is what has happened.

Elmo has taken out good penguin of the month, for getting out of bed at feeding times.

Penguin keeper Becs Cuthbert said Elmo is normally fed in the burrow she shares with her partners, Mo and Betty.

Fair enough as well. At 19, Elmo is the oldest inhabitant of Penguin Cove. In the wild little penguins would normally live to 10.

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"This month she had been really well behaved and coming right over to the keepers to get her food, so we are feeling pretty proud of her," Cuthbert said.

Elmo has cataracts, so cannot see well, and just one remaining flipper.

"Elmo lost her flipper. She was injured when she came to us, and we think it could have been something like a discarded fishing net," project lead Rachel Haydon said.

"Those sorts of things, when left in the environment, are incredibly dangerous to animals like penguins."

Elmo, who has deservedly won penguin of the month for getting out of bed to eat. Photo / Paul Taylor
Elmo, who has deservedly won penguin of the month for getting out of bed to eat. Photo / Paul Taylor

Haydon said Hawke's Bay locals were incredibly lucky to live where they could see little penguins, but they should be admired from afar.

If you spot an injured penguin, contact 0800 DOC HOT or the aquarium.

People could also help penguins by being mindful of their rubbish, picking up five pieces of plastic when they went to the beach, Haydon said.

She also urged people to keep their dogs on a lead.

Martin, a Penguin Cove resident of about six months, came into the aquarium's care after being attacked by a dog.

Nearly all 15 penguins at Penguin Cove are there because they were injured, or became sick in the wild, and were unable to be rehabilitated.

A notable exception is 5-year-old Dora, who was born at the aquarium and has quite the personality. Seemingly able to recognise a camera, she was more than prepared to strike a few poses.