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Penguin players shoot for World Cup-glory at Yokohama aquarium

An African penguin prepares to kick a soccer ball past another penguin in this recent photo provided by Yokohama Hakkeijima Sea Paradise, in Yokohama's Kanazawa Ward. (Photo courtesy of Yokohama Hakkeijima Sea Paradise)

YOKOHAMA -- With the 2018 soccer World Cup now in full swing in Russia, penguins at Yokohama Hakkeijima Sea Paradise here are getting their own game on, trying to sneak penalty kicks past their winged opponents.

A recent display featured African penguins, with one playing the part of a referee using its beak to issue a yellow card to another bird that had committed a foul. Then came the PK shootout, and later a chance for visitors to meet and take photos with the animals.

The penguin players will be shooting for goal daily at 1:00 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. at the aquarium's "Fureai Lagoon" until July 16.

The aquarium will also be holding the Hakkeijima Ajisai Festa hydrangea festival until July 1, with some 20,000 of the plants on display, as well as picturesque bamboo lanterns lit up at night near a special patch of white hydrangeas. According to an aquarium official, each plant has more flowers this year than average, and many have already reached their peak.

(Japanese original by Kazuhiko Hori, Yokohama Bureau)

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