Otter penguins. Adorable. Lovable. Rideable, even! Shortly upon Aang’s rescue from the iceberg, we meet these hybrid creatures [ATLA, 1.1]. In the midst of the category crises of the Avatar and his rescuers, we see him turn to one of the first hybrid creatures of the show.

Part mammal, part bird, otter penguins escape some of the most basic categories we have assigned to animals. Cohen tells us that this harbinger, escaping categorization itself, appears at moments of crisis (40), and the otter penguins certainly do.

While these monsters do make us question the categories we’ve created, uses the otter penguins’ moment of fun as a parallel for Aang – even through the devastating crashing down of the world he knows, he is bright, optimistic, and looking for a moment of glee. Who better to find it with than the cute, friendly otter penguins?


Aang and Katara riding otter penguins [ATLA, 1.1]