It is said when pineapples were first introduced to Britain, they were so expensive and unusual shoppers did not eat them and kept them instead as ornaments.
The same sense of wonder must have greeted Edinburgh Zoo's penguins when they first arrived in the city in 1914. A selection of breeds of the birds were offered to the zoo by the shipping company Salvesen's of Leith.
It is possible still to imagine the excitement when the grizzled crew of the cargo ship, newly arrived carrying whale oil from South Georgia in the Sandwich Islands, brought six strange new creatures to Scotland. They were the first to be seen in Europe. Symbols of popular culture, penguins have been loved ever since, not least for their boldness around humans.
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With television readily taking us to the other side of the world, and wildlife documentaries that benefit from spectacular technologies, it is easy to lose that sense of wonder.
But you only have to watch children at the zoo's daily penguin parade to know that, a century on, there is still nothing to compare with the chance to get up close and personal with a denizen of the other side of the planet.