Sunday, January 4, 2015

Injured penguin treated at aquarium

Wildlife handler Kishan Kirkwood with the injured and endangered Fiordland crested penguin which was brought to EcoWorld Aquarium in Picton last week.
A rare Fiordland crested penguin caused a lot of interest when it arrived in Picton last week.

The penguin was brought to Eco-World Aquarium by the Department of Conservation after it was handed in by a hunter to Waipapa Bay Camp, on the Kaikoura coast, on December 31.

Exactly how the penguin came to the hunter's attention is unclear, but it had been badly bitten by a dog.

Camp owner Belinda Girl, said the hunter, a regular holidaymaker in the area, told her he had found the penguin in the bush, but not precisely where.

As the bush comes almost down to the main highway at this point, the young penguin may not have gone far from the sea, but it would have had to cross the road and possibly the railway line.

Kevin McGrath, DOC duty officer for the top of the south, praised the hunter for rescuing the bird. "It was a very responsible thing to do; they're on the nationally endangered species list," he said.
Girl contacted DOC, whose Kaikoura staff brought the penguin to Seddon, where McGrath met them and brought it to Picton.

At Eco-World the penguin was identified as being one of this season's young, possibly only four months old. It was found to have a gashed wing and possibly a broken foot or muscular damage.

The bird has been eating well and Picton vet Christine McKenzie was called in to treat it.
Eco-World director John Reuhman said he had never seen a Fiordland crested penguin in Marlborough but he had seen one in Sydney Zoo.

The aquarium regularly received sick or injured penguins but all to date had been little blues. It has two on the sick list at present. "We've had as many as five in four days, but in 2012 we rehabilitated and released 19," said Reuhman.

On Sunday, Reuhman said the bird was eating and had gone for a swim in the aquarium's quarantine pool. "We were concerned about the damage to the left leg but the animal's sitting up quite square and looks to be improving."

The bird was in good spirits, Reuhman said. "It's fairly feisty. Everyone's been bitten by it."
It was hoped the penguin would be released into open sea over the next 10 days after Reuhman had spoken to Department of Conservation staff.


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