Yes. Sam's fall seems to be portrayed accurately in the movie. The Penguin Bloom true story confirms that the accident happened while the family of five was on vacation in Thailand in 2013. While taking in the view on a rooftop deck, Sam, then 41, leaned against a rotted balcony railing, which gave way and sent her plummeting about 20 feet to the concrete below. While it was a miracle she survived the fall, she sustained serious injuries, including a broken back and severe damage to her spinal cord, which resulted in complete paralysis from the chest down. She underwent a six-hour operation in Thailand to put rods and screws in her back. She had bleeding on her brain from hitting her head during the fall and she was initially plagued by severe headaches.
Yes. However, he didn't find it on the beach. While visiting her mother's house three months after returning home from the hospital, Sam's son Noah found the injured magpie chick in an adjacent park after it had been blown out of its nest on a windy spring day. He discovered it in the grass after it had fallen 65 feet from a large Norfolk Island pine tree. Sam and Noah hurried home with the chick and made a nest for it out of an old cane laundry basket. They used a tiny blanket to keep her warm.
Like in the Penguin Bloom movie, the true story confirms that they named the magpie Penguin because of its black and white plumage, big feet, and the fact that its walk was initially more akin to a waddle.
Speaking from experience, keeping infant birds alive takes considerable research and dedication. In the case of the magpie chick that Sam Bloom's son Noah found, they did a great deal of research and received advice from veterinary specialists. They learned that Australian magpies are omnivores, but as nestlings, magpies eat a lot of insects, far too many than they would be able to provide. Instead, in order to provide Penguin with a diet high in lean protein, they combined a special list of ingredients into a paste that they would pinch between their fingers and hold above her head, similar to what a mother would do. In the beginning, she needed to be fed every two hours during daylight hours but would sleep at night.
Like in the Penguin Bloom movie, there were moments where they thought they would lose Penguin and nights where they worried she wouldn't survive until morning. In time, they could see she was growing and gaining strength. Eventually, she began to sit upon the branch they had connected to her basket. They watched as she started to explore and they eventually got to witness her first flight in the family's lounge room.
Yes. The magpie was indeed known to snuggle in bed with members of the Bloom family and would even roll over on her back for an extra-comfy snooze or cuddle.
Yes. She would perch in the orange tree at the edge of the yard and begin to sing when she heard the boys approaching.
Yes. The Penguin Bloom true story confirms that the real Cameron Bloom is a professional photographer. Many of his images can be viewed in the Penguin Bloom book and on the family's Instagram account. More images can be seen in the family's second book, Sam Bloom: Heartache & Birdsong, published in 2020. It tells Sam's own personal story of healing and struggle.
Yes. By that point, Penguin would disappear for weeks on end. "We didn't know if she was gonna come back or not," says Sam's husband Cameron. February 15 was their son Reuben's birthday. As a joke, Sam said, "Imagine if Penguin came back." To their surprise, she did. She had flown into a neighbor's lounge room and the neighbor called the Blooms.
Yes. "Penguin has redefined what family means, and helped us appreciate how powerful love and compassion can be," says Sam. "In the beginning, we thought we were rescuing Penguin, but now we feel this remarkable bird has made us feel stronger, brought us closer, and also helped to heal our family during a very difficult time, so in a way Penguin rescued us." Sam says that she felt a renewed sense of purpose in being able to look after Penguin and take care of her.
Yes. In conducting our fact check of the film, we discovered that Sam was an executive producer on the movie and spent time getting to know Naomi Watts, who portrays her onscreen. On set, she helped Naomi accurately portray the physicality of being paralyzed, including getting dressed and doing transfers. "I really appreciated the fact that she wanted to make it real," Sam told Today. The movie was produced by Reese Witherspoon.
Adding to the film's historical accuracy is the fact that it was shot inside the Bloom family's real home in the oceanside community of Newport in New South Wales along Sydney's Northern Beaches. Reportedly, eight different magpies portray Penguin in the film, in addition to an animatronic bird and some CGI.
Yes. As stated earlier, the sequel to the Penguin Bloom book is titled Sam Bloom: Heartache & Birdsong. It offers Sam's honest and raw account of how the baby magpie helped to lift her from the depths of despair after her tragic accident, which left her paralyzed from the chest down. She also opens up about what her life was like before the accident, including fulfilling her dream of working as a nurse, traveling the world, falling in love, and having a family. Like the first book, it is accompanied by exquisite photography.