• Where's Wink?

last modified January 23, 2012 by tomlowenhaupt


­­­Here we organize the effort to locate and then restore Wink to his rightful position atop his boulder.

Tux's Plea


My Dear Human Friends,

Please help me find my cousin Wink. He's a really special bird. Here's a recent picture of him being petted by a nice boy. But now Wink's gone.


(Commons photo courtesy voteprime.) 

If you want to help, you might post a Where's Wink? flyer in the neighborhood. (See Other Wink Stuff below for a copy of a flyer.) And if you have any pictures of Wink, or anything else, please send them to me at Tuxsays@gmail.com.

And if you know anything, anything at all, no matter how seemingly insignificant, please let me know.

Please, please do all you can to help bring him back.

Your friend from the south,


Responses to Tux's Plea

Here's a copy of an email recently sent to Tux.


March 15, 2009

Dear Tux,

My wife Patti and I took some pictures at the crime scene in late February. Today we were looking them over and noticed that a suspicious looking fellow was watching us. Here's the picture (that's me in the background, looking at Wink's boulder):  wink-crime-scene-pic-1.JPG

(Commons photo courtesy Thomas Hawk.) 

The smirk on his face got me wondering - and let me make clear that I'm not a professional detective - but isn't it frequently true that the criminal returns to the scene of the crime. So Tux, do you recognize this fellow? Was he a friend, or otherwise, of Wink?

We're with you. Keep cool and keep strong.





In early January 2009, Wink The Penguin, who stood on his boulder in the Elm-Jack Mall, at the intersection of 75th Street and 37th Road in Jackson Heights, Queens, NYC vanished. Theft or "chicknapping" are suspected. Wink, a 22″ high bronze penguin was installed in 1995.

City officials have been notified with inquires made of the Police, Parks, and Transportation Departments by Council Member Helen Sears. But at present Wink's whereabouts remains a mystery.


    I researched this last year and still had the info on my computer:

    From the NY Times in 2001:

    "Maria Terrone was crossing 75th Street at 37th Avenue recently when she came across an arctic bird on a boulder. "It seemed kind of incongruous," she said. "Why is there a penguin in Jackson Heights? "

    She figured the penguin, which is three feet tall and made of bronze, might have been placed there by the city's Parks Department because it was standing on a median newly planted with trees and shrubs. But there was no sign explaining its presence in the middle of a busy street.

    As it turns out, a window from City Councilman John D. Sabini's office looks out onto the penguin. He was tired of seeing drivers whip U-turns across the street's low-rise concrete divider. So he asked the Parks Department, which has jurisdiction over a three-block stretch of the median between 37th Avenue and Broadway, to install a raised bed of plantings to beautify the area and keep drivers in line.

    Parks complied. The bird was Commissioner Henry J. Stern's embellishment. He wanted an animal presence on the median but a species that would complement the neighborhood. He knew that many Argentine immigrants were in the area, so he picked the penguin, which is known to waddle pompously through the southern part of that country.

    Mr. Stern had planned to install a flamingo sculpture on the other end of the three-block median, at 75th Street and Broadway, but feared that a car might mangle its slender leg. So he put in another penguin.

    When told of the commissioner's reasoning, Mr. Sabini belly-laughed. "What was the flamingo for?" he asked. "To satisfy the local Floridians?"

    Ms. Terrone worried that the water-loving penguins might have landed in a hostile clime. "There's not a lake or a pond in Jackson Heights," she said.

    Snippets on the Investigation into Wink's Whereabouts

    I received this e-mail reply the other day:

    Thank you for your recent inquiry about the statues at the Elm Jack Mall. Former Parks Commissioner Henry J. Stern was fond of animal statues and decided that penguins would be a fitting addition to this Greenstreet/traffic island, given the large number of Argentinean immigrants living in the area.

    One of the penguins was stolen a few years ago; we fear that the second one has met a similar fate, as it was not removed by Parks for any reason. There are no immediate plans to replace them, although we are aware of how beloved they were by the community.

    We appreciate your concern. If you have any other questions, please don’t hesitate to contact Joanne Amagrande, Chief of Staff to the Queens Borough Commissioner, at 718 520 5938.


    Christine Wagner
    Correspondence Liaison/Capital Projects
    NYC Department of Parks & Recreation

    • 115th Precinct Community Council Meeting - March 17, 2009 
    At the March 17 115th Police Precinct Community Council meeting, Inspector John D. Lavelle, the precinct commander, was asked about the efforts NYPD had taken to locate and return Wink. Inspector Lavelle reported that they are aware of the problem and have been working on the theft: that local scrap shops and the  antiques stores have been contacted. But no trace of Wink has been found. (There is a shred of hope here, no one said, "Oh, yes the penguin, we melted him down last week.")

    Asked if there was an stolen art database to which the theft could be reported,  Inspector Lavelle seemed interested in such an action. He also indicated that they were working with the Parks Department.

    Other Wink Stuff

    Photos From Flicker:

      From Elsewh­ere:


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