Thursday, September 29, 2011

Penguin says, "MEH," to Seal fight

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Want more? Listen to more of the Penguins

First, African Penguins:

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Gentoo & Macaroni:

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King Penguin:

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Emperor Penguin:

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What sound does a "Little Penguin" make? Listen...

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Sunday, September 25, 2011

Image of the Day

DSC00789 by muzina_shanghai
DSC00789, a photo by muzina_shanghai on Flickr.

Unhappy feet: is the harbour a fairytale ending?

Tim Barlass
September 25, 2011
Shelter ... father-to-be Mr Stickybeak, bearing scars from a propeller injury, is believed to be the last remaining male fairy penguin at Manly Cove West. Shelter ... father-to-be Mr Stickybeak, bearing scars from a propeller injury, is believed to be the last remaining male fairy penguin at Manly Cove West.

NATIVE wildlife lovers are praying this picture doesn't show the last march of the famous fairy penguins from Manly boardwalk.
Dogs and boats have taken such a toll that penguin guardians say only one pair remains from the feathered community that moved into Manly Cove West more than 20 years ago.
But they do have a nest of eggs.
The soon-to-be father fairy, known as Mr Stickybeak, is lucky to be alive, having sustained a propeller injury to his back. His then partner was killed by the boat.
A vet at Taronga Zoo stitched his wound but the scar is visible.
Mr Stickybeak, who was christened by penguin protector Angelika Treichler, has since partnered a female who was also taken to Taronga after losing her partner.
The penguins usually mate for life.
''This could easily be their last year,'' Ms Treichler said. ''There isn't much in life now that you don't have to pay for but the penguins are an example of that. Sadly, human beings are doing a very good job of trying to destroy their habitat.''
A dog killed seven penguins at adjacent Federation Point last year, and none of their offspring have returned to that spot this season.
Conservationists tried to get dogs banned from the area but a lobby by dog walkers meant they could still use the area with leashes. But dogs are frequently seen unleashed on the beaches, especially at night, despite Manly council issuing 60 infringement notices.
The penalty for having an uncontrolled dog in a public place is $220.
Three weeks ago another penguin was killed by a dog and two more were lost to propellers.
The beach penguins are believed to be among some 60 pairs in the wider Manly area, the only mainland population in NSW.


Friday, September 23, 2011

Penguins leaving Lincoln Park Zoo

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Evelyn Holmes

The penguins are marching out of Lincoln Park Zoo - the penguin house is being shut down to make way for a new exhibition space.
Zoo officials plan to shutter the existing seabird house to eventually building a new exhibition space.
"We're obviously sad that it's closing - we'll have to come and say bye to them," said Shannon Griffiths.
The move means the 22 penguins and 43 various seabirds will have to find temporary homes at other zoos and aquariums across the country.
"Penguins remind people of our childhood - whether you see them here or in a movie, they make you happy," said Elisabeth Rome.
The best time to move the birds is during the cooler months, which could mean the polar birds could be gone before the annual Zoo Lights program, which begins after Thanksgiving.
"We will be here for the Zoo Lights and for the Halloween, and, obviously, the penguins won't so that's kind of sad," said Christine Perkins.
The revamp of the penguin house comes nearly 30 years after it was first built, but because of its age, it just has to be updated.
Zoo staffers say the closure is necessary because some of the temperature control equipment in the Kovler Penguin-Seabird House facility is failing, and although the birds will not likely return for several years, zoo officials say they will be back.
"So cute and furry - the way they waddle," said penguin fan Joshua Garcia "Started liking them because I saw a movie."
Garcia isn't the only with a love of penguins. There's 4-year-old Nicholas and the class project: Stanley the Gingerbread Man. There's also Matt Anderson, who heard about the closing and just had to come and see his favorite penguin, who he calls Fred, just one last time.
The zoo's eventual goal is to create a new state-of-the-art exhibit featuring penguins at some point in the future.


Image of the Day

Mohawk Adelie by Kylefoto
Mohawk Adelie, a photo by Kylefoto on Flickr.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Penguins identify mates, kin by smell, study finds

A foraging Emperor penguin preens on snow-covered sea ice around the base of the active volcano Mount Erebus, near McMurdo Station, the largest U.S. Science base in Antarctica, December 9, 2006. REUTERS/Deborah Zabarenko
CHICAGO | Wed Sep 21, 2011 
(Reuters) - Penguins can sniff out the odor of lifelong mates, helping them reunite in crowded colonies, and also can identify the scent of close kin to avoid inbreeding, scientists said on Wednesday.

Some seabirds have previously been known to use their sense of smell to find food or locate nesting sites but the experiments with captive Humboldt Penguins at Brookfield Zoo near Chicago proved, for the first time, that the birds use scent to discriminate between close relatives and strangers.

"Other animals do it, we do it, so why can't birds?" said Jill Mateo, a biopsychologist at the University of Chicago, who worked with graduate student Heather Coffin on the research published in the journal PLoS ONE.

"Their sense of smell can help them find their mates and perhaps choose their mates," Mateo said.
"Seafaring birds that travel long distances in the ocean use odors to find food and use odors to recognize nests but we didn't know what odors or the extent to which they could use odors to recognize kin," Mateo said.

"This was the first study to show they can use odor to recognize genetic differences," she said.
Researchers worked with two groups of endangered Humboldt Penguins raised at the zoo, totaling 22 birds. Their behavior was recorded as the birds examined scents emitted by oil from the birds' preening glands. The gland near the bird's tail excretes oil used to keep them clean but also has an olfactory purpose.

In one experiment, penguins with mates preferred the comfort of their mates' scent over the scents of unfamiliar penguins. In another, penguins without mates spent twice as long investigating unfamiliar penguins' scents than those belonging to their close relatives.

"In all sorts of animals that we study, including human babies, novel odors, novel cues, are investigated longer than less-novel cues," Mateo said.

Scent is used by many species to attract mates, or to avoid mating with relatives, she said.

For Humboldt penguins, which nest on Peruvian cliffs and spend long periods foraging at sea, odor acts as an identifier when they return to colonies crowded with thousands of birds nesting in cracks and crevices.
"It's important for birds that live in large groups in the wild, like penguins, to know who their neighbors are so that they can find their nesting areas and also, through experience, know how to get along with the birds nearby," said animal behavior expert Dr. Jason Watters of the Chicago Zoological Society, which operates Brookfield Zoo.

"It could also be true that birds may be able to help zoo matchmakers in determining potential mates," Watters said.

"You could imagine that if (naturalists) were trying to reintroduce birds to an area, you could first treat the area with an odor the birds were familiar with. That would make them more likely to stay," he said.
(Editing by Bill Trott)


Aquarium mourns penguin death, prepares for fundraising walk

Posted: Wednesday, September 21, 2011 

MYSTIC – It's been a whirlwind week so far for Mystic Aquarium's African penguin colony.

On Monday, aquarium penguins and staff visited Get Fired Up ceramics studio in Pawcatuck to create art to be given away as prizes during the Fifth Annual Penguin Run/Walk on Oct. 15 at the aquarium.
Penguins had their feet dabbed with non-toxic paint before waddling across blank tiles to create works of art. Painting is a form of enrichment for the penguins. They are trained to stick out their feet to allow trainers to examine them as part of Mystic Aquarium’s animal care program.

The Oct. 15 event will consist of a 5k run, a 2-mile walk and a quarter-mile kids race, with penguin-made prizes awarded in various categories. Visit for more information.

On Tuesday, the aquarium announced the death of Yellow Red, also known as “String,” a 19-year-old female African penguin, who passed away unexpectedly on Friday.

String was hatched at the Aquarium on October 4, 1991. An African penguin’s life expectancy is 18 to 20 years in the wild, but they can live into their mid-30s in zoos and aquariums, the aquarium said in a release.
The cause of the penguin's death is still unknown.

Because of her curious and calm nature, String was an outstanding contributor to aquarium’s interactive programming, the release said. She was the first to participate in a penguin encounter and make a penguin painting, and she helped develop the aquarium’s penguin training program that uses tactile reinforcement. String often appeared at public events and in the media, including appearances on national television.

Mystic Aquarium's African penguins serve as ambassadors for their wild, endangered counterparts. Over the last six years, the world’s population has decreased by an alarming 60 percent. The public can contribute to the aquarium’s African penguin conservation efforts by visiting on Oct. 8 during the aquarium’s African Penguin Awareness Day celebration and by participating in the Oct. 15 run.

A Life in Black & White

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More on the Formerly Featherless Penguin Chick

baby penguin saved by aquarium staff

A sickly baby penguin which hatched at Liaohutan Pole Aquarium in Dalian, China on August 17, 2011 entered the world without any feathers and was soon rejected by its parents. Alone and unable to fend for itself, the staff at the aquarium took care of the baby for one month until it grew healthier and even sprouted feathers. The aquarium handlers re-introduced the baby penguin back into its family group where it was accepted. Feathers... gotta have them in the penguin kingdom.



Image of the Day

Pingu by Ray_Scott
Pingu, a photo by Ray_Scott on Flickr.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Bald penguin cast out by family

THIS adorable penguin faced a real cold front from his family — who cast him out when he was born without feathers.

The little critter suffered from a rare condition that left him completely bald.
Wang Dan — who works at the aquarium in Dalian, China, where the penguin lives — said: "In the beginning we tried to send him back to his parents, hoping they would still take care of him and help him grow stronger, but they neglected him and even kicked him out."
Keepers then set up a round-the-clock watch and hand-fed the animal for a month until he grew stronger.
He also eventually grew feathers — and his family accepted him back into the fold.
Lucky him, it would have been a beak life otherwise...


Video <------

Penguin 'ambassador' at Mystic Aquarium dies at 19

By Judy Benson
Published 09/20/2011

Mystic -- A 19-year-old female African penguin named Yellow Red, also known as “String,” died unexpectedly at Mystic Aquarium Friday.

  In an announcement today, the aquarium said String was hatched there on Oct. 4, 1991. Her cause of death is still unknown. An African penguin’s life expectancy is 18 to 20 years in the wild and they can live into their mid-30s in zoos and aquariums, the aquarium said in a news release.

  Because of her curious and calm nature, String was an outstanding contributor to the aquarium’s interactive programming, was the first to participate in a penguin encounter and make a penguin painting, and helped develop the aquarium’s penguin training program that uses tactile reinforcement, the aquarium said. String often appeared at public events and in the media, including appearances on national television.

  The aquarium participates in the African Penguin Species Survival Plan and partners with South Africa’s SANCCOB (The Southern African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds) to assist in African penguin research and rescue efforts to help prevent population loss.

  The aquarium said its African penguins serve as ambassadors for their wild, endangered counterparts. Over the last six years, the world’s population has decreased by an alarming 60 percent. The public can contribute to the aquarium’s African penguin conservation efforts by visiting on Oct. 8 during African Penguin Awareness Day celebration and by participating in the 5th Annual Penguin Run/Walk on Oct. 15.


Image of the Day

Magellanic penguins, Monumento Natural Los Pingüinos, Isla Magdalena

Monday, September 19, 2011

GALLERY: Painting Penguin

Sep 19, 2011
Blue Blue an African Penguin from Mystic Aquarium, paints tiles at Get Fired Up in Pawcatuck, Monday morning. The tiles are for the 5th annual Penguin Run/Walk that will be held on Saturday, October 15 in Mystic.
Mystic Penguin Paint 02.JPG
Aaron Flaum/
Sarah Dunn, senior trainer of Sea lions and Penguins at Mystic Aquarium holds Blue Blue, an African Penguin as Mystic Aquarium volunteer Mary Ellen Hagen of East Lyme, applies paint to his feet at Get Fired Up in Pawcatuck Monday morning. The tiles are going to be part of the 5th annual Penguin Run/Walk that will be held on Saturday, October 15 in Mystic.
Go HERE for many, many more images!

This video MUST go viral!

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I've watched this 25 times and I laugh every single time. Enjoy!!


Image of the Day

Colony striations by Kylefoto
Colony striations, a photo by Kylefoto on Flickr.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Penguin-minders to educate visitors

An initiative to keep both people and penguins happy around Oamaru Harbour is being set up by the Waitaki Tourism Association.
The association is calling for volunteers to help educate visitors about how to treat penguins and other wildlife in the area.
That follows increasing feedback from visitors to the Oamaru Penguin Colony, where viewing is controlled and visitors are educated about the welfare of penguins.
When the visitors leave, they see other people outside who are chasing or blocking birds trying to reach their nests.

It is a problem that has increased in recent years, along with calls for something to be done to control people who do not go to the colony.
The aim is to have volunteers - at least two a night during the peak viewing season from this month to the end of March - educated by the Department of Conservation then taking up duties between the colony and Holmes Wharf, to help people understand the penguins and what they need to do to preserve their welfare.
The association also plans to produce a "code of conduct", which will be distributed to tourism operators and accommodation providers, to inform visitors how to take care of the area's wildlife.
Yesterday, the Department of Conservation and the Waitaki Tourism Association met to launch the initiative.
Association representatives said they were worried about the increasing number of comments from visitors who were disturbed about the way others were acting towards penguins outside the Blue Penguin Colony.
Those actions could have an impact on Oamaru's reputation.

Tour bus operator Ralph Davies said Oamaru was blessed with a lot of wildlife, including the blue and yellow-eyed penguins. That generated thousands of visitors and contributed to its economy.
He took tourists on a night tour of Oamaru, which concluded with viewing at the Blue Penguin Colony.
However, when leaving the colony, it was not unusual to see other visitors around the harbour, blocking penguins' paths to their nests or taking flash photographs, which disoriented the birds, he said.
Department of Conservation ranger Helen Jones said that could cause the penguins to return to the sea, or regurgitate food they had gathered for their chicks, affecting the chicks' fledgling weights.
Volunteers would be educated by the department, issued with vests and encouraged to educate and help visitors at the harbour to protect the penguins.

"It's a way of keeping everyone happy - people and the penguins," she said.
People interested in becoming volunteers can email or phone 437-2146.


Pengie Videos

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Go HERE to see a cute and funny vid on penguins. Thanks to Cora for the heads up!

Image of the Day

Penguin close-up by BrynJ
Penguin close-up, a photo by BrynJ on Flickr.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Warrnambool pitches in to save penguins from early death

15 Sep, 2011 
NEW Zealand's wayward penguin Happy Feet may have become a happy meal for a hungry shark this week but Victoria's wildlife officers are making every effort to ensure our own marine birds are spared from an early death. Twenty-five people, including the Department of Sustainability and Environment's (DSE) south-west senior biodiversity officer Mandy Watson, took part in a two-day training course on how to care for wildlife affected by an oil spill.
Last week's course also involved staff from the Phillip Island Nature Parks, the Department of Transport and the Australian Marine Oil Spill Centre.
Ms Watson yesterday described the course as "fantastic", saying she had learnt a lot about new techniques in treating oil-affected birds.
"We also learnt about catching and handling penguins and were out at night on the beach."
Caitlin Barry, from DSE's wildlife conservation and management unit, said marine wildlife was one of the first casualties in an oil spill.
"Seabirds that are smothered with oil are vulnerable to internal damage because preening their feathers means they ingest the oil. This can cause chemical poisoning," Ms Barry said.
"Oil can also interfere with the buoyancy and temperature regulation of seabirds, which leaves them extremely cold and tired.
"DSE has established wildlife response procedures for marine pollution emergencies for the rescue, humane treatment and rehabilitation of oiled wildlife". In the case of an oil spill, one of the key stages in rehabilitating wildlife is cleaning the oil off them and participants practised at the training sessions using dummy birds.
Phillip Island Nature Parks spokesperson Roz Jessop said it took about 50 litres of water to wash one penguin.
"The birds are given a pre-treatment, and hand washed using dishwashing detergent and a soft cloth. They are then rinsed and dried.
"If they are not rinsed properly, the penguins can become waterlogged and drown because penguins aren't waterproof when they have oil on them."
Rescuers also use jumpers to stop the birds from preening themselves and ingesting the oil.
"They used to use little ponchos but the penguins worked out how to pull these off. There are now people all over the world dedicated to knitting penguin jumpers to use in oil spills," Ms Jessop said.
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An example of a small jumper used to stop penguins from preening themselves after an oil spill.
An example of a small jumper used to stop penguins from preening themselves after an oil spill.
DSE's Leona Waldgrave-Knight (front) and Mandy Watson (back) learn about how to wash penguins if there was an oil spill
DSE's Leona Waldgrave-Knight (front) and Mandy Watson (back) learn about how to wash penguins if there was an oil spill

Image of the Day

Forest Penguins! by anthonybrown
Forest Penguins!, a photo by anthonybrown on Flickr.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Image of the Day

Penguin family IV by Aztlek
Penguin family IV, a photo by Aztlek on Flickr.

Penguin may get monument in New Zealand

 Sept. 13, 2011

PEKA PEKA, New Zealand, Sept. 13 (UPI) -- Workers at a New Zealand nature preserve where a confused emperor penguin washed ashore in June say they want to erect a sign at the beach to honor the bird.
The penguin, dubbed Happy Feet, was released back into the wild closer to its home in the Southern Ocean Sept. 4, and the Nga Manu Nature Reserve is petitioning for a monument, the Kapiti Observer in New Zealand reported Tuesday.
Nga Manu Manager Bruce Benseman has applied to the Waikanae Community Board for $600 to erect a sign marking the spot where Happy Feet washed ashore in Peka Peka. He pointed out that an emperor penguin has visited New Zealand only one other time, 44 years ago.
"It is therefore a rare and special occurrence and worth memorializing," he said.
The sign would give visitors to the beach information on whom to contact if they discover stranded wildlife.
Happy Feet was found in ill health at a beach in Peka Peka after swallowing sand and sticks, and spent two months recovering at the Wellington Zoo after being released into the wild.


Tuesday, September 13, 2011

How penguins find a perfect partner

King penguin parents spend about 14 months incubating their egg, then rearing their chick. They take it in turns to find food, so the strength of their bond is crucial. Biologists want to know how they make this important mate selection, and even how the birds tell a male from a female; the two sexes look almost identical.

Prof Stephen Dobson from the National Centre for Scientific Research in Montpellier, France, playfully sums up his research: "I'm trying to work out what makes a sexy penguin." His studies of the birds on Kerguelen Island have revealed that penguins often struggle to spot a member of the opposite sex.

Prof Dobson also found that males on the island in the Southern Indian Ocean often had to compete particularly hard to snag a female mate. He and his team noticed that, during mating season, trios of penguins would "parade" around together. DNA analysis showed that the trios were usually two males pursuing a female.
When the penguins do find a mate that they take a shine to they carry out an intimate dance – stretching their necks from side to side in what appears to be an elaborate embrace. Occasionally, two males will engage in this mating dance, but the pair usually separate when one finds a female partner.

Prof Dobson’s team, which also includes researchers from the Centre for Functional and Evolutionary Ecology in Montpellier, France, has found that the penguins' bright yellow ear patches play an important role in attraction.

The researchers measured the size and colour intensity of these ear patches to find out how they affect penguin attractiveness. They also used black hair dye to artificially reduce the size of the ear patches.

Males with artificially-reduced ear patches seemed to have less success finding a female. Females also appeared to choose males with larger ear patches, and the researchers think that larger ear patches might convey a male's ability to defend his chick and his territory in the crowded colony.

The scientists hope to unpick the evolutionary mystery of how these birds select a suitable partner who will co-operate in the care of their egg and chick. They also hope to find out more about the penguins' natural behavior to see how they are being affected by environmental change.


Has Happy Feet, the world's unluckiest penguin, been eaten just two weeks after being returned to wild?

  • GPS transmitter stops sending signal about half-way through journey to Southern Ocean
  • Bird had been nursed back to health in expensive recovery operation
By Richard Shears

12th September 2011

It has been a costly mission to restore the world's most famous penguin to his ocean home.
But all the efforts - and money spent - appear to have been vain as it seems Happy Feet may have ended up as a predator's lunch.
The wandering emperor penguin had been nursed back to health after being found hundreds of miles from home on a New Zealand beach, desperately ill after eating sand he thought was snow.
A human surgeon was even brought in to remove sticks and stones from his stomach.

Far from home: Happy Feet washed up on Peka Peka Beach in New Zealand - 3,000 miles north of its native Antarctica Far from home: Happy Feet washed up on Peka Peka Beach in New Zealand - 3,000 miles north of its native Antarctica

Happy Feet then had a GPS transmitter attached to him so his progress back into Antarctic waters could be tracked when he was released back into the ocean last week.
But the device stopped working last Friday - about half way to his destination in the Southern Ocean.
Experts said that while it is possible the device fell off and is sitting at the bottom of the ocean while Happy Feet continues safely on his journey, they fear he could also have met his fate in the jaws of a larger creature.
Emperor penguins have a number of predators including sharks, seals and killer whales.

In an early statement, Sirtrack, the company that attached the transmitter, told the New Zealand Herald that the lack of signal 'leads to the conclusion that either the satellite transmitter has detached or an unknown event has prevented Happy Feet from resurfacing'.

A spokesman for the company said there was 'a chance' the juvenile penguin had been eaten, adding: 'That's what makes the world go round.'
But as animal lovers expressed their horror that Happy Feet had been attacked and eaten, Sirtrack put out a new statement.

Happy Feet the penguin has surgery
Happy Feet the penguin has surgery
Life-saving: A team of medics operate on Happy Feet  after he became sick after eating sand he mistook for snow. He underwent four operations in all.

Mr Kevin Lay, speaking for the company, said that the transmitter appeared to be in good working order up to the time it stopped sending data and the most likely explanation for the silence is that it had fallen off.
The transmitter, he said, had been only glued on so that it would fall off in time.

'We hoped it would stay on for five or six months, but it appears in this case it's only stayed on for two weeks.'
Mr Lay added that it was possible the penguin had been eaten, but he was doubtful.
'There are some species that will forage on emperor penguins but it's not likely that it has happened to Happy Feet because of the area he was in,' he told New Zealand's ONE News.
'We firmly believe that the transmitter has become detached.'
He said another possibility was that Happy Feet was underwater when the satellites that picked up the GPS signals were overhead.

'Maybe he's just spending a lot of time under water because he's found a good source of food,' said Mr Lay.

F-f-f-f-Freezing: Happy Feet, who was found on a beach, prepares to go back into the sea for the first time in two months
F-f-f-f-Freezing: Happy Feet prepares to go back into the sea for the first time in two months

Gone: Happy Feet disappears for good. Web users will be able to track his progress online as he has been fitted with a GPS tracker
Gone: Happy Feet disappears for good, but his GPs tracker has now stopped giving off a signal

Vets at the Wellington Zoo and experts who have been tracking the penguin's progress all agreed that the next few days were critical.
'Hopefully, we'll all be pleasantly surprised,' said one official.
Happy Feet was named after the 2006 animated feature about a tap-dancing emperor chick.
He underwent four surgeries at Wellington Zoo to remove sticks and stones from his stomach and then spent two months in rehabilitation before being released into the ocean, well short of his habitat.
An international treaty prevents authorities from returning the penguin directly to Antarctica, so he was released in an area where other juvenile emperor penguins like himself are at play at this time of the year.

Vet Lisa Argilla, who looked after Happy Feet at Wellington Zoo, said she was pleased when he had been released back into the Southern Ocean.
She said: 'He slid down his specially-designed penguin slide backwards, but once he hit the water he spared no time in diving off away from the boat and all those "aliens" who have been looking after him for so long.'
When Happy Feet had finally been given a clean bill of health, he was placed in a specially-designed crate filled with ice and loaded onto the research vessel Tangaroa.
Sea conditions were too rough for Happy Feet to be released by hand, so he was placed on a tarpaulin slide running from the boat's ramp.
'He needed some gentle encouragement to leave his crate, but then the release went really well,' said Miss Argilla.

A team from the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research and the boat crew were all on deck to wave him goodbye.
'It's an indescribable feeling to see a patient finally set free,' said Miss Argilla.
Voyage leader Richard O'Driscoll told Wellington's The Press newspaper that apart from giving the veterinary team a few nips at feeding time, the penguin had been a well-behaved passenger.