Rico is the head of demolition and storage for the penguins. He has feathers resembling a Mohawk on his head and a scar across the left side of his beak, but it is unknown how he got it, since he didn't have it in the first two Madagascar movies. It is shown in A Christmas Caper, which took place before the movies, but does not appear in the movies at all.

Rico holds a variety of items in his gut, which is a virtual hammer space as many items are bigger than him. It includes time bombs, TNT, flamethrowers, bazookas, chainsaws, anchors, and even 37 dollars in change. While inside his digestive system, Mort finds a spiral staircase and an elevator. Rico also has a female doll, Ms. Perky, which he seems to love very much. Unlike the other Penguins, Rico usually makes grunting noises rather than speaking actual words (though his speech has improved steadily since Season 2). Rico has a weird way of crying.

In the episode "All Choked Up", Skipper has Rico save an activated time bomb for later to destroy a robotic tour guide. Alice notices that Rico is constantly regurgitating and has him take a special medicine that prevents him from throwing up. The penguins try to get the bomb out within 24 minutes, but every attempt, including the horrible Number 12, and stuffing Mort down Rico's throat, fails. Skipper, Kowalski, and Private say their goodbyes, and their farewells are so heartfelt, Rico starts to gag because of the "mushiness". Combined with the Number 12 substance, he finally hacks up the bomb (and Mort), and it explodes on the tour guide.

Rico's fortune in Misfortune Cookie says "You will soon meet a foul end." While Rico and the penguins do not believe in curses, Julien tries to make them believe by tricking Rico into believing that he is cursed to the point where Rico hides in a pillow fortress. Skipper then confronts Julien and they agree to make Rico think that he is not cursed by going through with an ancient lemur ceremony. After a duck lands on Rico at the end of the ritual, Private reveals the meaning of the fortune: the duck's bottom is a fowl end.

When all attempts to get Roger to toughen up fail in Roger Dodger, Kowalski switches their minds. Unfortunately the switch from a 10lb, two-foot avian into an 800lb, 14 foot alligator results in Rico going on a rampage, not just in the sewer to deal with the rats, but all over New York. The penguins eventually find him and Roger (in Rico's body) sings a lullaby to pacify him like he did earlier. After they swap back, Roger helps the penguins sing a lullaby as a barbershop quartet. Rico, at first, can't stand how "lovey-dovey" the song is, but soon starts to sing along.

Rico isn't too bright - while he never performs actual actions of stupidity, he is much more comfortable taking orders and being the muscle of the team, often used as a threat by Skipper in interrogations. According to Skipper, he never disobeyed an order, not even the time he told him to suck the cobra venom out of his left buttock. He has a psychotic love for violence and destruction, looking on to such scenes - whether programs or real life - with a vacant expression of amusement. He also thinks about fish a lot.

Generally referred to by Skipper as a world-class psychopath, Rico has an appetite for destruction that has an unfortunate tendency to cause as much trouble as Kowalski's mad inventions. The penguins have to keep him tightly reigned in, only using explosives when necessary, or he goes completely wild. Kowalski once got some of his personality messed up with Rico's in Sting Operation, mentioning how horrible it is, and asked Rico how he could stand it, to which Rico just shrugged. In Roger Dodger, Roger switches personalities with Rico and we see Rico's full capabilities as a 2000lb alligator.

Although Rico is said to have little tolerance for mushy stuff, he often displays emotions of all kinds, often the first to break into tears, and after Private, could in fact be the second most emotional penguin on the team. He is never given any rank but seems to be classed as higher ranking than Private, but lower ranking than Skipper or Kowalski. As the weapons maintainance and storage guy, it is possible (but unconfirmed) that he holds an approximate rank of Corporal

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