Madagascar (characters, penguins)

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The penguins (left to right): Private, Kowalski, Skipper and Rico.

The Madagascar Penguins are four penguin characters who first appeared in the Dreamworks film Madagascar (hence their collective name), created by Tom McGrath and Eric Darnell.

They are thus far the only characters to feature in all films of the Madagascar franchise as well as its various spinoff media.

The Penguins[edit]

All four penguins have their own individual personalities and names, using their unique traits in the form of commando-style missions for which the penguins are famed for.


Skipper is the leader of the penguins, whose leadership remains unquestioned by the others. Despite being firm and practically incapable of relaxation, Skipper continues to lead the penguins to success on almost every mission. It is rumored that he and Marlene are in a romantic relationship.[citation needed] In all media, Skipper is voiced by his creator, Tom McGrath.


Kowalski is the tallest and thinnest of all the penguins, and certainly the smartest. He is the brains of the outfit, concocting complex plans in mere seconds for Skipper and the others to instigate almost immediately. In the films, Kowalski is voiced by Chris Miller with a broad American accent, but in the television series The Penguins of Madagascar he is voiced by Jeff Bennett with a slight English accent.


Rico is the oddball of the penguins, and the only character to feature inconsistent changes in his film and television appearances.

In the Madagascar films, Rico is a mute from Antarctica who acts rationally and is loyal to Skipper and the others. In the Christmas special The Madagascar Penguins in a Christmas Caper and the consequent TV series The Penguins of Madagascar, Rico has become an almost psychotic penguin with spiked hair, a scar down his face and the ability to regurgitate all manner of inanimate objects. In all media, Rico is portrayed by John DiMaggio and by Conrad Vernon in the 2014 film.


Private is the youngest of the penguins and is certainly the most naive. Private is characterized by his bulging eyes that occasionally look different ways as seen on promotional images, and he speaks with a squeaky British accent. In the films, Private is voiced by Christopher Knights, and in the TV series, he is voiced by James Patrick Stuart.

The Films[edit]


Main article: Madagascar

As with the majority of characters in the franchise, the penguins all had their debut appearances in the 2005 film Madagascar. In the film, the penguins attempt to escape from Central Park Zoo in New York City and make their way to Antarctica. They are captured when found waiting for a train in Grand Central Station, and are sent along with the other characters to a wildlife park in Kenya.

During the events of the film, the penguins hijack the cargo ship taking them to Kenya and take it instead to Antarctica, accidentally dropping the crates containing Alex, Marty, Gloria and Melman over the side in the process. However, on arriving in Antarctica, the penguins become unimpressed with the barren wasteland before them, with Private haughtily commenting: "Well, this sucks!"

The penguins take the ship back to Madagascar, and beach it after the ship runs out of fuel. However, Skipper decides not to tell the other animals stranded on the island, telling the other penguins to: "Just smile and wave, boys! Smile and wave!"

A Christmas Caper[edit]

Main article: The Madagascar Penguins in a Christmas Caper

The penguins were later given a starring role in a Christmas-themed short set before the events of Madagascar, which was released as a supporting feature to the British claymation film Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit. In the story, Private sets out to buy a Christmas present for Ted the Polar Bear (voiced by Bill Fagerbakke), but is accidentally kidnapped and attacked by a psychotic poodle, with the other penguins rushing to rescue him.

The short would later provide the foundation for the television series The Penguins of Madagascar, which followed similar storylines in each episode.

Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa[edit]

Main article: Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa

In the sequel film, the penguins utilize the remains of an aeroplane on Madagascar and make it airworthy, using it to fly themselves and the others back home. However, the plane crash-lands somewhere in mainland Africa, and the penguins spend much of the film repairing the plane. It is during this film that Skipper falls in love with a wooden doll of a Hawaiian dancer that had been kept in the plane's cockpit, which he "marries" at the end of the film.

The Penguins of Madagascar[edit]

Main article: The Penguins of Madagascar

The penguins later starred in their own television series that first appeared shortly after the release of the second Madagascar film. The series returned to Central Park Zoo, and featured the penguins engaged in a long and bitter rivalry with fellow zoomate King Julien (who had also debuted in the first Madagascar film).

The series also introduced the character of Marlene, a headstrong otter who occasionally allied with the penguins and set them tasks to perform, although she frequently teases Skipper over his inability to take things easy (as was the case in the episode Crown Fools). It was in the series that Rico was revealed to be dating a Barbie doll, and that Kowalski had a crush on an unseen character named Doris the Dolphin (as mentioned in Gone in a Flash).

Merry Madagascar[edit]

Main article: Merry Madagascar

All four penguins return in the 2009 midquel Merry Madagascar, although only Skipper and Private have any dialogue in the film. It is revealed in this film that the inhabitants of the North Pole and the South Pole are in a long and bitter "cold war" with one another over allegations that Santa Claus once lived at the South Pole, but was lured away by "cheap elf labour".

It is also revealed in the film that Private is completely smitten with Cupid, one of Santa's reindeer, and the feelings are likewise returned.

Madagascar 3[edit]

Main article: Madagascar 3

It has been confirmed that the penguins will return for the third and (possibly) final film in the series.

See also[edit]