Thursday, September 6, 2012

“Chesty” not ordinary penguin

Written by Floris Steenkamp   
Wednesday, 05 September 2012  

Releasing an animal back into the wild has an unthankful side to it. Once released the animal would not stop for a moment, but turn around, have that tender look in the eyes saying; “thank you”.

But there are exceptions like in the case of Chesty, an African penguin recently saved by a marine tour operator when it was found paddling helplessly in the sea off Walvis Bay, visibly dying from some kind of illness.

Following Chesty’s speedy recovery at a seabird rehabilitation facility in Swakopmund, the bird refused to swim off when his rescuer Hans Moller released it back into the water at Lüderitz. Instead of doing the unthankful thing and disappearing in an instant, Chesty calmly swam in circles and was enjoying it even more when the Moller family went into the water trying to encourage it off to happy penguin world.

When the family returned to their vehicle, Chesty too got out of the water and waddled along to the car. Ready to return to the Nest Hotel with them, which sponsored the Moller family’s two days stay at the hotel as part of the effort to release Chesty back into the wild. Moller’s company Sunsail Charters flew Chesty from Walvis Bay to Lüderitz for its release into one of the nearby penguin colonies.

With Chesty unappreciative of the release effort, it was time to devise a plan B. “The representative of the local penguin rescue project offered to keep it along with two other penguins. They would all be released on one of the penguin populated offshore islands soon”, Moller explained to Informanté this week. With two penguin companions, it is hoped Chesty would rid itself of its acquired affection for Homo sapiens.

Informanté recently reported on Chesty’s rescue from the water by Moller during a marine cruise with tourists off Walvis Bay. An x-ray examination by local vet, Dr. Amanda Beeker, revealed it had a severe infection and unexplained growth in its trachea. This blocked the bird’s airway and prevented it from eating properly.

Moller explained when they flew with “Chesty” down to Lüderitz last Friday they were all amused at the way it stared from its cage. “It was almost thus if the little guy was also enjoying the view from up there”. Its unexpected reaction simply left the Mollers even more attached to the penguin.

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