A job to walk fat penguins has got New Zealanders in a flap - so it's too bad it was all a prank.

The fishy post on Otago Polytechnic's Facebook page started out truthfully, referencing the success of their recent pop-up Penguin Hospital.

But then it took a dive into the absurd.

"In fact, they've been so well looked after they're getting fat!

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"We're putting the call out for volunteers to walk these guys around campus to help burn that fat!"

The original post that got hopes up for many, including some in the news media. Photo / Facebook.
The original post that got hopes up for many, including some in the news media. Photo / Facebook.

Those who looked below the surface of the post might have noticed applications closed at 12pm.

Yet many thought it was real, tagging friends who might be interested.

Two media outlets even contacted the polytech, asking for more information on the story.

The polytech isn't naming them, but a spokeswoman admits she "took the mickey" when they called.

While many believe newspapers are birds of a feather, the Herald was not one of the outlets that fell for it.

Other commenters got into the April Fool's spirit, with one saying that walking penguins would clash with her schedule teaching synchronised swimming to turtles.

Fair to say some of the commenters got into the spirit. Photo / Facebook.
Fair to say some of the commenters got into the spirit. Photo / Facebook.

Between those getting in on the joke, and those who fell for it, the post went viral.

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209,000 people were reached across the world, including China, the Philippines, South Africa and UK.

8700 people reacted or shared, while 3300 people commented.

Otago Polytech's marketing team are thrilled, pointing out the post went further than the efforts from giants such as KFC or TradeMe.

One of their designers, Sam Hendry, took a photo with a leash attached to a piece of wood, before photoshopping in the penguin with a collar.

The original picture, before the penguin was photoshopped in. Photo / supplied.
The original picture, before the penguin was photoshopped in. Photo / supplied.

Digital media specialist Hayden Parsons took the photo, while communications co-ordinator Megan Martin wrote the post.