A world record with over 26,000 penguins! Collectors want a Guinness book

Penguins as far as the eye sees them: Birgit Berndes and Stefan Kirchhoff of Cuxhaven aim to set a record five in their group.

Cuxhaven – penguinsWherever the eye sees: be it in the form of a plush toy, a collector figure, or on ties – at the Penguin Museum ………………………. ………………………………………….. ………………………………………….. …………………………. appears …. wave. Cuxhaven It teems with people in tails. Both Birgit Berns (48) and Stephan Kirchhoff (53) aim for a fifth record in their group.

Crazy Passion: Birgit Berns (left) and Stephan Kirchhoff sit at the museum between characters in different ways. © Sina Schuldt / DPA

Details are barely visible to the naked eye: the glass penguin is only half a centimeter across, has spread wings and is painted in four different colors. According to the Guiness Book of Records, this little number belonged to the largest penguin group in the world by the Cuxhaven couple.

The two actually have four entries in the Guinness Book of Records – the most recent from 2011 with more than 11,000 items. They are currently seeking recognition by the Recording Institute in Germany. “We’re still doing the evaluation,” says Bergt Berendes. There are currently more than 26,000 in your Excel table.

Olaf Kuschenbecker, founder of the Record Institute, assumes that recognition will be swift: “I don’t know of any other group of penguins that are bigger.” Around 4,000 objects are on display at the Penguin Museum in Cuxhaven, which the Berends / Kirchhoff couple opened twelve years ago: the animals are made of plush, wax, metal, wood, or porcelain. The largest figure is 1.90 m in height.

Anyone building such a large group should have a lot of passion, says Kuchenbecker: “And also a certain capacity for suffering, because things usually no longer allow so many options in apartment design.”

Whether it's a plush toy, collector's figure, or ties - the Penguin Museum Cuxhaven is teeming with people wearing tails.

Whether it’s a plush toy, collector’s figure, or ties – the Penguin Museum Cuxhaven is teeming with people wearing tails. © Sina Schuldt / DPA

For Berends and Kirchhoff, the new record should be the last: “We no longer collect.” Well, that’s not entirely true, as the mathematician admits: “We recently bought out on a failed way. We can’t ignore that.” But the two haven’t been to the flea markets for long, no longer buying on Ebay and also aren’t accepting collections.

The Penguin Museum will continue to operate, however, it has only reopened following the coronavirus restrictions. The two don’t make any money from that, and instead run the museum on a voluntary basis.

Four years ago they founded the association “Pinguinfreunde Cuxhaven”, which now functions as a museum director. Members come from all over Germany. “There are a lot of penguin fans,” says Stefan Kirchhoff. According to him, their donation kept the museum financially afloat during the closures related to Corona.

Birgit Berndes’ passion for penguins began at around the age of 18. why? “I just love animals.” When her husband later got involved in the hobby, the achievement frenzy really began. Both are set to achieve a standard entry. In 2006 it was time: with 2,520 animals, they officially had the largest penguin collection in the world for the first time.

Berends and Kirchhoff also approached penguins in the wild: they went to New Zealand, South Africa, Antarctica, and the Falkland Islands to observe animals in their natural habitat.

Once the coronavirus and wallet restrictions allow, the two have a new target in mind: the Penguin Care Station in Christchurch, New Zealand.

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