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10-year-old Omar's wish to hug a penguin

“ I got to hug the King penguin and I even gave him a little kiss ”

- Omar

What’s black and white and hugged all over? A King penguin at SeaWorld Orlando after wish kid Omar has his one true wish to hug a penguin granted in October.

Omar, 10, knew he had a pretty unique wish but penguins are a big presence in his life.

His room is filled with penguin stuffed animals and penguin figurines. He watches all the television shows and movies that feature penguins. But it is what penguins stand for that makes them so important to Omar.

“I like what they do. They go in the water with their family, catch fish with their family and are all together in an igloo,” he said. “And, they look cute, are so soft and I like their colors.”

Family is important to Omar, who has to spend a lot of time in the hospital and relies on his family to keep him company and keep his spirits up. His diagnosis of a life-threatening circulatory disorder means bi-monthly blood transfusions. Luckily, his mom, brother and stepdad, are there in the hospital to go through this with him.

Omar found out his wish would come true at a special penguin themed party at Funtasticks Family Fun Park. He wasn’t quite sure what to expect but he knew there was one thing he definitely wanted to do – get close enough to hug a penguin.

He flew to Florida with his family and on his first day there was escorted to SeaWorld Orlando’s Antarctica: Empire of the Penguin™ attraction. According to Omar, he couldn’t wait to see his favorite animal.

“They showed me into the place with lots of penguins everywhere,” he said. “It was very cold and there were lots of penguins. There weren't babies but there were white bands for the girls and black bands for the boys.”

And did he get his wish?

“I got to hug the King penguin and I even gave him a little kiss,” said Omar. “Then, I helped to build a nest made of rocks like they do. They grab rocks with their wings and make a nest.”

His mother, Vanessa, said that when he went to bed that day he said, "Mom, I’m very happy, I felt so much love and that the penguin gave me love also when we hugged each other.” Vanessa said, “I was very happy when he said that.”

Omar had high hopes for his wish and all his ideas of what it was like came true.

“I’m so happy I actually got to hug at least one!”  He added, “I really enjoyed my wish and thank you for making my wish come true.”

  • Omar with his family and penguin inside SeaWorld Orlando’s Antarctica: Empire of the Penguin™ attraction.

  • Omar high fives the avicultrist at SeaWorld.

  • Omar is overjoyed to be hugging a King penguin and is grinning ear to ear.

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