Cheeky chick comes to town
The white-flippered penguin chick was "detained" by police after being spotted by a concerned citizen near the Avon River boatsheds yesterday morning. "He saw it looking very lost near the boatsheds and was a little worried that the ducks might try to get at it, so he brought it in to the station," Sergeant Graham Duncan said.
Police rang the Department of Conservation (DOC), and "allowed its release into [the] protective custody" of two DOC workers who came to the station shortly before 9am.
DOC ranger Anita Spencer said the white-flippered penguin was a rare, local sub-species of the blue penguin.
"They are endangered and have been recognised as nationally vulnerable, and we have been involved in efforts to conserve them," Spencer said.
She said the penguin was in good condition and perky, and was jumping around in the box that the DOC workers placed it in.
While penguin chicks did turn up in rivers and at beaches at this time of year, it was unusual that this one had made it so far up the Avon.
"It's most likely gone upriver chasing fish and gone off-track at some point," Spencer said.
"It probably would have found its own way back, but given the amount of plastic debris in the Avon it was a wise decision to take it out."
Spencer said the discovery was a reminder that people needed to be mindful of running into penguins near a river or at the beach. "Dog-owners in particular need to make sure their dogs are leashed on beaches, because otherwise they can hare into the dunes and disturb a penguin burrow without anyone knowing."
DOC released the penguin back into the wild at Kaitorete Spit at Birdlings Flat.
Image courtesy of Flickr
Story courtesy of Stuff NZ@