Last updated 03/01/2013
Linda has been officially taking in rescued animals since she was approved by the Department of Conservation in August and to date has helped reintegrate plenty of seagulls, along with a number of native kereru and other strays, back into the wild. She has also cared for little blue penguins.
But she is particularly excited about the arrival of the yellow-eyed penguin, because it is far less common than its cousin and seldom seen around Kaikoura.
The penguin was found south of Kaikoura, at Oaro, in a garage.
It was looked after for a couple of days down there before inquiries were made through the i-Site and Linda was contacted. "It was found in a very distressed state," Linda said. "We think it had been bitten by a seal. The fact that he had been bitten across both his feet suggests he was swimming and a seal got him, rather than a dog."
Linda took the penguin to the vet to make sure there were no broken bones. An X-ray confirmed nothing was broken although the penguin did have a nasty infection so was prescribed antibiotics as well as antifungal treatment, which is important when such an animal is taken into a domestic setting for any time.
The care of the penguin is rather time-consuming because he requires regular dousing with cold water, particularly in the hot weather in Kaikoura over Christmas. As well as continual cold showers, he eats 10 per cent of his body weight three times a day.
Because he is so dehydrated Linda has been tube-feeding him liquids before his meals so that he can manage to get the soaked fish down his throat, which is proving quite successful. When he arrived he weighed just 3.2 kilograms but now he is up over the 4kg mark, which is very pleasing for Linda.
"We have really been very lucky that we were supplied with just under 6kg of fish from Donna at the Top Shop [fish and chip shop]. "Because we are non-profit, and having to foot the vet bills, it was really lovely that they were so good to step up and help."
The penguin has even mellowed during his stay. He used to snap at Linda and her family but now seems resigned, although not necessarily enthusiastic, about being manually fed. And though he is beginning to feel at home, he is not far from being released. Linda hopes he will be well enough as early as this week, provided he gets the all-clear medically and does not require a second course of antibiotics.
Linda says looking after the yellow-eyed penguin has been a really special experience, one that she has been privileged to have been a part of. Yellow-eyed penguins rarely come this far north, preferring the southern waters of New Zealand's mainland and islands. With an estimated population of just 4000, they are considered an endangered species, and one of the world's rarest penguins.