TAMPA, Fla. — When lawmakers are in session, there’s no telling who you’ll see inside the capitol. Bigwigs, movers, shakers, lobbyists in a shadowy corner — even a sharp-dressed penguin?
There was no hiding a quartet of penguins who took Tallahassee by storm this week. Photographed among power players, hanging outside the halls of state democracy — the capitol penguins were the talk of the town, but what were they doing there?
I headed to The Florida Aquarium in Tampa to find out, but they
ran waddled away from my questioning.
Luckily, The Florida Aquarium CEO Roger Germann talked for his feathered friends.
“What better way to talk about all the great things they are doing here at The Florida Aquarium than to be in the state’s capitol?” Germann said.
They weren’t just fun to interact with — the four penguins who took the trek to Tallahassee alongside lobbying group RSA Consulting served as animal ambassadors.
The list of lawmakers they met with, as extensive as their penchant for fish:
- Senate President Kathleen Passidomo
- House Speaker Paul Renner,
- Representative Danny Alvarez
- Representative Brad Yeager
- Representative Toby Overdorf
- Senator Jim Boyd
- Representative Lawrence McClure
- Representative Lindsay Cross
- Representative Susan Valdes
- Senator Danny Burgess
- Representative Jeff Holcomb
- Representative Josie Tomkow
- Representative Randy Maggard
- Representative Berny Jacques
- Senator Shevrin Jones
- Senator Lauren Book
- Lieutenant Governor Nunez
- Representative Dan Daley
“The state government does provide opportunities through grant programs to be able to support organizations like us, so we just thought it was a great, fun way to be able to connect with those who are making really tough decisions, but let them know that their tough decisions and their support of places like the TFA are having a great impact,” Germann added.
This year they’re hoping lawmakers grant them $500,000 for electric vehicles to update their current fleet.
“Because when we care for animals like our penguins here, they are feeling the pressure with a lot of things like fossil fuels and others. So to be able to be up in Tallahassee and bring the ambassadors that can really be affected the most was pretty fun and exciting for us,” Germann explained.
And while they don't say much the penguins sure left their mark — other lobbyists wish they could get lawmakers to smile half as much.