Saturday, February 13, 2010

KI penguins die after "rescue"

 A DEH officer removes the fledglings from the Kangaroo Island Penguin Centre.

KI penguins die after "rescue"

05 Feb, 2010 10:32 AM
Two penguin chicks have died after they were seized by a government officer from the Kangaroo Island Penguin Centre. “It is unforgivable,” said the centre’s owners. The birds were among five penguins removed by the Department of Environment and Heritage, after it claimed the centre’s John Ayliffe and wife Jenny Clapson had breached the conditions of a permit issued for their care. The couple had rescued the chicks from Kingscote penguin colony after they were abandoned by their mother. “There is absolutely no reason those birds should have died,” Mr Ayliffe said. “We are extremely annoyed. I am absolutely certain they would have lived if they had stayed here – they were feeding well and putting on weight.”

A DEH spokesperson said this week the penguins were in poor health when they were taken from the centre, but this is disputed by Mr Ayliffe, who said the officer who removed them commented on their good condition. Mr Ayliffe believes stress contributed to the penguins’ death. He said after being seized by DEH, they were transported in cat cages from Kangaroo Island to Adelaide Zoo “on a stinking hot day”.
The remaining penguins are still being cared for at the zoo, and DEH said it was not yet known if or when they would be released back into the wild.

Mr Ayliffe and Ms Clapson have been fined $240 for breaching the permit conditions for the birds. DEH now considers the matter closed – but the couple doesn’t agree.
The pair is concerned about what will happen to the remaining birds, and want to meet the DEH to discuss future management of the colony. Meanwhile, the pair is not prepared to risk further fines by rescuing more penguins. “We got a call last week from someone who saw two sick penguins and a dead one in the colony,” Mr Ayliffe. “She was very disturbed, but we couldn’t do anything. If we go and rescue any more the second fine would be massive.”


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