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Speedy recovery for rehabilitated Little Penguin

Published: 8 January 2021

Little Penguin Release Napier Port Sanctuary Jan 2021 7

L to R: Napier Port Environmental Advisor Paul Rose, National Aquarium of New Zealand Bird Keeper Amy Giddens, Wildbase Hospital and Recovery Supervisor, Pauline Nijman

A young kororā/little penguin was found by a member of the public at Ocean Beach in August last year. With a fractured and swollen flipper, she was dehydrated and had lost a lot of weight.

The penguin was brought to the National Aquarium of New Zealand. After an initial assessment and care by a local vet team and National Aquarium staff, the penguin was then transported to Wildbase Hospital at Massey University, Palmerston North.

Wildbase works with captive institutions all over New Zealand, including the National Aquarium of New Zealand. The team at Wildbase operated on the penguin’s injured flipper, which took four weeks to heal. She was then able to start swimming and was transferred to an outdoor aviary and pool at Wildbase’s rehabilitation centre.  

The surgery required feathers to be plucked from the penguin’s shoulder, leaving a large featherless area. So before release, she needed to complete her annual moult to replace the feathers as well as pass fitness tests. Having done both, she was ready to go back to the wild.

Pauline Nijman, Wildbase Hospital and Recovery Supervisor, says “The National Aquarium’s native residents often need our specialised skills and knowledge. We are very proud to support the Aquarium’s work in advocating for the plights of our native treasures. We hope this penguin will thrive in the wild after getting off to a shaky start.”

National Aquarium staff released the penguin to the Napier Port sanctuary on Thursday. The penguin was placed into a nesting box on land to give it a quiet safe space to get used to, giving it the opportunity to venture out to sea when it feels ready.

“This young penguin is now in great condition to return to the wild. The kororā sanctuary at Napier Port is the perfect place to get started as it is free from predators and human disturbance,” says Joe Woolcott, General Curator at the National Aquarium of New Zealand.

“It’s a great outcome and wonderful to share this moment with other passionate individuals from dedicated organisations working together for this species.”

Further information on the Napier Port Sanctuary.



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