‘Penguin Town’ Netflix documentary puts Simonstown on the map (again), nominated for 6 Daytime Emmys!



Following hot on the heels of the documentary ‘My Octopus Teacher’ winning an Oscar for the South African and Cape production in 2021, a new local documentary ‘Penguin Town’ has been nominated for six 49th annual Emmy Daytime Awards.

The Film has been nominated in the ‘Outstanding Travel, Adventure and Nature Program’ category, one of five contenders in the category. It has also been nominated in the ‘Outstanding Music Direction and Composition’ (with the theme song ‘Pushin’ On’ composed by Cape Town’s The Kiffness), in ‘Outstanding Single Camera Editing’, in  ‘Outstanding Sound Mixing and Sound Editing’,  in ‘Outstanding Daytime Program Host’, and in the ‘Outstanding Cinematography’ categories.

Best Documentary Feature 2021: And the Oscar goes to …… ‘My Octopus Teacher’ from Cape Town!


Both documentaries were filmed in Simonstown, and are putting the suburb, Cape Town, and South Africa on the world Tourism and Movie map. Both documentaries are screened on Netflix.

’Penguin Town’ is an eight-part documentary about the heroes of Simonstown, a suburb in the deep South of Cape Town. The African penguin, also known as the Jackass Penguin, living in a sanctuary at Boulders Beach in Simonstown, is the focus of the documentary. The Town tolerates and appreciates its Penguin population, bringing valuable Tourism Rands to the suburb. Penguins have a dedicated street crossing on the Simonstown main road. Comedian Patton Oswalt is the narrator of the series.

The Storyline is described by Netflix as follows: ‘In a picturesque South African Town, an eclectic group of endangered penguins flock together to find mates, raise families and mix with the locals’. 

Filming for the documentary series began in 2019.  It introduces the viewer to four Penguin couples: The Bougainvilleas, the Culverts, the Courtyards, and the Wheelbarrows, given names on where their nests are, and shares the ups and downs of raising their chicks.

Simonstown has a total of about 3000 African penguins, and is a tourism drawcard, one being able to get a close-up view from three different boardwalks. Visitors can observe the penguins swim, play, feed, and care for their young offspring. Visitors are able to swim with the penguins too.

The African Penguin is a very endangered species, and is only found in our country as well as in Namibia. It is not found anywhere else in Africa. In November penguins from further afield than Simonstown converge on Simonstown to moult. Single penguins will hook up, and once they become a couple they pledge allegiance to each other. In January and February they start breeding, being around four to six years old. Typically they lay two eggs at a time, and can do so twice a year. Eggs are incubated by both mom and dad Penguin, and hatch after about 40 days. Only about 40% of the newborn penguins will survive the first year.

The South African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds (SANCCOB) caters for penguins, hand-rearing young abandoned penguins, as well as those that are ill or covered in oil due to oil spills. The organisation plays an important role in sustaining the Penguin colony in Simonstown, which attracted penguins to the suburb in 1985 for the first time. Last year 63 penguins died in the area, from bee stings, a blow to Simonstown’s Penguin colony.

‘Penguin Town’ tugs at the heartstrings, as much as ‘The Octopus Teacher’ did. Highly recommended family viewing.

’Penguin Town’ was released in June 2021. The Emmy Day Time Awards winners will be announced on 24 June.


Penguin Town’, Red Rock Films, Netflix. 2021. 


Chris von Ulmenstein, WhaleTales Blog: www.chrisvonulmenstein.com/blog Tel +27 082 55 11 323 Twitter:@Ulmenstein Facebook: Chris von Ulmenstein, My Cape Town Guide/Mein Kapstadt Guide Instagram: @Chrissy_Ulmenstein @MyCapeTownGuide

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