Los Gatos Girl's Puffin Video Goes Viral

49-second 'cute' footage of aquatic bird and 9-year-old interaction at Monterey Bay Aquarium has received 8,000-plus hits on YouTube.

A still frame of the 49-second video of Los Gatos girl Dakota Wood and puffin at Monterey Bay Aquarium.
A still frame of the 49-second video of Los Gatos girl Dakota Wood and puffin at Monterey Bay Aquarium.

A 49-second video of a Los Gatos girl engaging a Horned Puffin behind a water-filled giant glass enclosure at the Monterey Bay Aquarium has gone viral.

Mom Bobbi Jo Wood, who shot the video with her iPhone, said she took her daughter Dakota, 9, and older son Joey, to the aquarium the afternoon of Sunday, Aug. 18. 

Soon after arriving, they visited the puffin's aquarium and found the facility was emptying out of patrons due to the lateness of the day. 

The Blossom Hill Elementary School student then stood on one side of the glass enclosure and began slowly hopping from one side to the other and the bird seems to mimic or want to follow her.

"There was nobody in the way," mom said. "It was kind of cool. She had the opportunity to interact with the bird and the bird was so intrigued by her."

"It seemed kind of amazing," mom exclaimed, adding she had taken the video for family purposes, but was so excited when she realized she had captured the special interaction between Dakota and the puffin that she contacted the Aquarium on its visitors' log.

She said she was immediately contacted by Geoff Drake, social media producer for the Monterey Bay Aquarium, who said he would love to see the video.

Wood sent him to the video's YouTube page and on Tuesday when he replied he had posted the footage on all of the Aquarium's social media networks—Facebook, Twitter, etc.

As soon as it hit all those sites, Wood said the video began receiving more and more visitors with every time they visit the page, more and more hits are recorded due to it being shared.

"It's kind of funny. It's just a cute, cute video," Wood said.

When she first posted the video on YouTube it had about eight hits, Wood added. As of this morning, it had 8,161 hits.

Wood said her daughter is so excited by the public's response to the video that she's constantly asking her how many "hits" she's received on it.

She said during some hours of the day, the video will gain a couple of hundred page views in a 15-minute period.

"It's spreading so quickly. It's kind of trip right now for her. She says, 'I'm a celebrity.' "

Wood said she hopes the video will raise awareness about the great work of the nonprofit Aquarium in Monterey whose mission is to "inspire conservation of the oceans."

"The ideal situation would be to create more income for the Aquarium," Wood said. "But, at the same time, my daughter is having a blast with it."

The video's virality has already been recognized by the Viral Spiral company, which contacted Wood on Wednesday asking if she was interested in signing a contract to allow it to use the footage for commercial purposes.

Wood said she's not interested in making money from the video, just supporting the Aquarium. "Ideally, that's who I would prefer profited from it [the video]," she said. "And we, as a family, enjoy very much going there."

The Woods are not members of the Aquarium, but say they're regular visitors and love the facility's different exhibits and its education programs for youth.

Dakota's grandparents have contacted her to tell her "she's famous," mom noted. And ... "she's kind of tripping out on the attention ... Her response is just ... 'How many hits do I have?' "

Correction: This story has been updated. An earlier version said the Horned Puffin water bird was a penguin, when it's not. Everyone makes mistakes, even us. If there's anything else that's amiss in this post, please email Editor Sheila Sanchez at sheila.sanchez@patch.com.
Mark Latham September 05, 2013 at 02:35 PM
News Flash: Puffins are not penguins. They're ALCIDS. Not even closely related to penguins (which only reside in the southern hemisphere).
Jeremy Barousse September 05, 2013 at 03:18 PM
Whatever kind of aqua bird it is, it's a darn cute video. The interaction between the bird and girl is just so fascinating. How cool it is a local girl from Los Gatos!
natashajrosenberg September 05, 2013 at 07:27 PM
Hi Dakota, Lydia loves your video.
Patti Neslusan September 05, 2013 at 07:32 PM
looks like a puffin to me.
Marilyn Leonard September 05, 2013 at 07:40 PM
Puffin - penguin, whatever. Be that as it may, the video is adorable. Enjoy your 15 minutes of fame, Dakota. Really cute! :-)
Jeffrey Bachman September 05, 2013 at 07:43 PM
"ALCID video goes viral" just does not sound the same. I say we call him penguin and let the Aquarium start the marketing campaign.
Jeanne Rajabzadeh September 05, 2013 at 09:59 PM
Esmée St James September 06, 2013 at 01:54 AM
Crazy cute.... love that Dakota noticed how the penguin just wanted to play!
Gary Cian September 06, 2013 at 04:27 AM
not to be a downer or anything but do you think the person that feeds those puffs might have a familiar black bag filled with little treats ?????? just sayin
Debbie Mcdonald September 06, 2013 at 08:05 AM
Ah, that isn't a Penguin, it is a Puffin. Need to get your facts straight there news service. But whether it is a Penguin or Puffin, it is darn cute. When I was a kid I visited the San Diego Zoo, and had a similar experience with a juvenile Orangutan. He spotted me from way back in the inclosure and made a bee line to my window and tried to give me a rock he picked up. Could have been we were both redheads, don't know, but it was a great experience.
Erika Swirsky September 06, 2013 at 08:27 AM
e bird in the video is not in fact a penguin.It is in fact a puffin,which is not related to the penguin. as a writer I would have expected more, but you clearly have no knowledgeon the species you were writing about. you might want to do some clear research before writing an article that hundreds of people might read.you have now just mis-informed hundreds of people on what species of bird this is, which has a reverse effect on the aquariums YEARS of educating the public about this species.
Mrs. Smith September 06, 2013 at 08:34 AM
Cute - the penguin must have liked what she was wearing.
Christina M Rizza September 06, 2013 at 08:55 AM
it is not a penguin, it is a North Atlantic puffin
TS September 06, 2013 at 10:26 AM
I can't wait till the day they make a law for no wild animals in captivity. They need to stop this nonsense. It's total emotional/ mental abuse for the poor animals. It needs to stop. This poor Puffin is definitely trying to get out. I used to love zoos when I was younger b/c I love animals, but after what I've seen and learned I know better. I would never set foot in a zoo or aquarium ever again.
GREGORY September 06, 2013 at 10:31 AM
Frank Shore September 06, 2013 at 10:47 AM
I think the Puffin is trying to communicate to the girl that it needs help, that it is captive, and is seeking her help to get free. I understand the behavior after spending a lot of time observing animal behavior.
Sincere Art September 06, 2013 at 10:58 AM
Eh, it does that with every child..lol
Kathleen D. King September 06, 2013 at 11:34 AM
Cute video, however, you would think if you're going to write a piece on it, get the name of the bird right! PUFFIN'S are NOT penguins of any kind.
Eija Gavlick September 06, 2013 at 12:38 PM
Puffin, penguin, whatever. A bird, how's that. In any case it seems the bird is lonely and wants some company. That's why it was inter acting with this little girl. Most birds are group souls and when nobody else was around the bird was looking for a friend. So cute in any case.
Irene Aida Garza-Ortiz September 06, 2013 at 01:30 PM
Very Cute!
Judith September 06, 2013 at 01:43 PM
How darling! My youngest daughter, when she was 5, had the same experience with a baby llama at the children's petting zoo section of a major city zoo. To this day llamas are her favoite animal.
Kyle David Fenrick September 06, 2013 at 02:04 PM
the bird looked so sad when she left it almost made me cry lol
Adam Maleson September 06, 2013 at 03:18 PM
As if people aren't ignorant enough already, this article deliberately misinforms them of the actual species of the bird. That's not doing a great deal to promote conservation, if you're promoting false notions of which species are which. Promote conservation by informing, not misinforming.
Claudia Geiger September 06, 2013 at 04:45 PM
Very cute.. but it is a puffin!
Grant Paul September 06, 2013 at 04:47 PM
There is a very similar scene in the first Happy Feet movie. One wonders, what was this Puffin trying to communicate to the girl?
Ronald Romanelli Jr. September 06, 2013 at 08:25 PM
Thats a Puffin ...not a Penguin `
Sheila Sanchez (Editor) September 06, 2013 at 09:43 PM
To the nine readers above who rightly pointed out that the Horned Puffin is not a penguin, thank you. We've corrected this error. Thanks for reading and commenting! Thanks to us, the Huffington Post and other media nationwide now have this story! Los Gatos Patch is the owner of this story and Bobbi Jo Wood shared the video with her Patch first before agreeing to have other media interview her and her daughter Dakota! Thank you, Bobbi Jo for sharing this cute story that has now gone viral, too! BTW, we forwarded many media requests today to Bobbi Jo related to this story, including NBC Bay Area News.
Sheila Sanchez (Editor) September 06, 2013 at 09:48 PM
At least in this story, The Daily Mail gives Los Gatos Patch some credit: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2414067/Puffin-befriends-year-old-girl-race-Monterey-Bay-Aquarium.html
Diane S. September 08, 2013 at 12:37 PM
This was cute the first time, but continuing to make the bird go back n'forth so fast is cruelty to animals. Bad enough the animal is in captivity. Any animal would probably do that after going stir crazy from being in there.
LJ September 09, 2013 at 04:08 PM
For all the whiners who dont like animals in captivity: I dont like it either, but with humans killing animals and destroying their habitat in record speed, the animals are in fact safest in an appropriate captive environment. This will continue until humans develop a brain and stop reproducing in unsustainable numbers. Meanwhile, I'd rather have tigers in a zoo, for examle, than no tigers in the world at all, which is nearly the current situation as they have been slaughtered by humans. Many zoos have captive breeding programs which are used to help repopulate animals in areas where they have been extinguished. So please lets stop bashing zoos.


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