The 10-month-old emperor penguin that wound up on a New Zealand beach is getting its x-ray results back today. The good people at the Wellington Zoo expect the penguin to make a full recovery, and will keep it until he does. Good thing too, because once it's well, it's going to have to swim home.
Wildlife officials announced the decision today, after an advisory group headed by the Department of Conservation informed them that emperor penguins this age are usually found north of Antarctica on pack ice and in the open ocean. So, logistically, they'll have to transport the penguin part way by releasing it in the Southern Ocean, southeast of New Zealand.
Officials aren't certain how far the young one will have to swim to find its way home.
June 28, 2011
New Zealand's Stranded Baby Penguin Recovering From Surgery
Update: It's been a long week for the 10-month-old baby penguin that somehow made its way through Antarctic waters and onto Peka Peka beach in New Zealand. First, wildlife officials were hesitant to intervene. Then, the penguin grew lethargic and became ill after confusing sand and driftwood for snow and food. Then, it was transported in the back of a truck filled with ice to the Wellington Zoo. And now, it's recovering from endoscopic surgery to remove the sand and bits of wood from its stomach.
Thankfully, the penguin has a lot to look forward to. While it's not out of the woods just yet, its health seems to be improving. And, if all goes well, a businessman in the region has offered to ship the penguin back to the sub-Antarctic in February (if the zoo doesn't ship him there first).
For now, the penguin is filling up on fish slurry and keeping cool in a room chilled to about 8C, and is catching some Zzz's on a bed of ice.
June 24, 2011
Update: Lost Penguin Gets New Home
Remember the little penguin that lost its way in the waters off Antarctica and wound up on a beach in New Zealand? Wildlife officials had planned on letting nature take its course, after deciding that transporting him back to Antarctica was too risky.
But now, they seem to have had a change of heart.
The penguin's health was getting worse as it kept mistaking sand and wood for snow and food, and officials feared he might die without their help. Today, they decided to move the penguin from Peka Peka Beach into a tub of ice in the back of a truck for a 65-kilometre trip to the Wellington Zoo. They're hoping they can nurse him back to health before releasing him into the wild.
June 22, 2011
Lost New Zealand Penguin Forced To Find Its Own Way Home
For the first time in more than 44 years, an Emperor penguin has shown up on a beach in New Zealand. The 10-month old baby must have taken a wrong turn while searching for squid and krill, and wound up 3,200 kilometres away from its Antarctic home. Experts say this journey is quite a feat, considering the penguin could have caught any number of diseases by swimming through warmer waters. The penguin appears to be well fed, but is struggling to cope in its new surroundings. While it can drink salt water, it's been seen eating wet sand, mistaking it for snow.
Wildlife officials say they won't interfere with the penguin, and won't help it find its way home. They plan to "let nature take its course" for a few reasons: it's dark almost 24 hours a day in Antarctica right now, it's difficult to travel in those conditions, and they don't want to introduce any new illnesses the penguin might have picked up into the Antarctic penguin colony. Let's hope the little one finds its way back home.