The image of a bagpiper playing the pipes for an ‘indifferent penguin’ was taken during an expedition to the Antarctic in the early 1900s, and features piper Gilbert Kerr along with a King penguin on the ice.
Alan Ferrier tweeted side-by-side images of the two photos with the caption: “Who would have believed that the perfect Wikipedia photo caption could have been improved upon?”
The original caption reads: “Piper Kerr, a member of the Scottish National Antarctic Expeditions, plays the bagpipes for an indifferent penguin, March 1904.”
But it’s the addition of just one word that has caught people’s attention.
“Piper Kerr (right), a member of the Scottish National Antarctic Expeditions, plays the bagpipes for an indifferent penguin, March 1904.”
Although the image caption has now sadly been altered into something a bit more serious, Alan’s tweet has gone viral, resulting in more than 50,000 retweets and 94,000 likes on Twitter.
One user pointed out that Kerr received a medal ‘for valuable services’ to the Scottish National Antarctic Expedition, but the penguin had not.
In 2002, Geoff Swinney of the Royal Museum of Scotland (now the National Museum of Scotland) told the BBC that Kerr had been instructed to play the bagpipes next to the penguin to see if the bird would react.
Swinney said: “The idea was that they were going to play [the penguin] jigs, strathspeys, reels, slow marches, etc, and see if the penguin had any reaction.
“It stood unmoved. Of course, it’s largely unmoved because it’s tied to the foot of the piper.”