The Penguin Post has learned that a group of islanders have come together to express its concern about the survival of the Little Penguin colonies on Kangaroo Island in south central Australia. Representatives of Save the Little Penguins Committee, have written to Department of Environment Water and Natural Resources chief executive Allan Holmes, asking if DEWNR “has a policy to reverse the decline of Little Penguins and then a policy to assist in their preservation and growth”. “It is our belief that if some form of human intervention is not actioned quickly then very soon the current populations of Little Penguins nesting in South Australia will disappear forever.”
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The Penguin Post has learned that two Fairy penguins, one with a limp and one that tends to bite, have been stolen from a specialist care center on South Australia’s Granite Island. Police said thieves broke into the center between May 30 and June 1 and stole five-year-old female Alice and two-year-old male Kennie. Alice is micro-chipped and has a medical condition called bumble foot which causes her to limp. While Kennie is described as aggressive and liable to bite. Police said both penguins had special dietary and vitamin needs and were undergoing rehabilitation on Granite Island, south of Adelaide.
The intrepid Fiordland penguin who swam 2000 miles to Australia will have to repeat the feat if she wants to get home, with the Australian Department of Conservation saying plans to fly her back are unnecessary. Last week the Penguin Post reported that a feisty 2-year-old penguin named Katrina washed up on a beach near Mount Gambier, South Australia. Bird rescue worker Aaron Machado, who is rehabilitating Katrina, was fighting suggestions she be put in a zoo for good and had wanted to fly her home. But Michelle Gutsell, leader of the Department of Conservation Te Anau office species recovery team, said Katrina had a good chance of making it back to New Zealand under her own steam. “She will have that homing instinct. These birds spend a lot of time in the water, they are sea-goers, that’s what they do. She will be fine.” While Machado had offered to pay for Katrina’s flight, Gutsell said she would rather see the money put towards other wildlife projects in Australia. Since the New Zealand penguin was found almost two weeks ago she’s had surgery on a large gash to her abdomen, and put on nearly 2 pounds so she now tips the scales at about 6 pounds. She has also enjoyed her first swim since the crossing, Machado said. She had also maintained her “feisty” attitude, he said. “She’s a grumpy little girl.” It would be at least a month, but likely longer, before she was ready for release, though he still preferred the idea of a flight home.
As told to the Penguin Post it took eight hours lying on the cold, hard ice in Antarctica to get the perfect shot, but for Penney Hayley the long wait was worth it. The Western Australian photographer snapped this picture of an Adelie penguin shooting out of the ocean at Cape Denison in Commonwealth Bay during a cruise with Orion Expeditions. “I love the look on his face,” she said. “I don’t know who got the biggest shock – him or me. “I reckon if he could have pedaled backwards he would have.” The image is one of the ten finalists in week 14 of the Escape Your Holiday photo competition in Australia Ms Hayley, 50, from Kununurra, took more than 10,000 photographs during the 19 day trip, but this was one of her favorites. “It’s a very restricted area and there’s only 100 people allowed at any one time,” she said.”We had a window of opportunity where we had really, really good weather which is quite good for Antarctica. “It was the most surreal experience. “The penguins are often getting chased by leopard seals.” While it looks like a predator in the background, Hayley said it was actually another penguin about to jump out.
This just in to the Penguin Post. Swift justice in Australia as British tourists who broke into an Australian Sea World and stole a penguin following a drunken night out have now been fined $1,030 each, according to reports. Of the trio who committed the mayhem that night only two were British, Rhys Owen Jones, 21, and Keri Mules, 20. Both appeared before magistrates in Brisbane Wednesday and pleaded guilty to trespassing, stealing and keeping a protected animal, Australia’s Department of Justice said. The two friends, from Wales, were arrested after breaking into Sea World on Queensland’s Gold Coast during an alcohol-fueled escapade on April 14. They also swam with dolphins and let off a fire extinguisher in a shark enclosure, according to a BBC News report. The pair were in the country on a working holiday visa when the incident took place. They sneaked into the animal park along with Australian James Vasilj, 18, after drinking vodka at a beach party, according to a report on news website Wales Online. They then snatched the fairy penguin, called Dirk, from an aquarium before waking up with the flightless bird in their apartment the following day, the report said. The friends’ lawyer Bill Potts told Southport Magistrates’ Court that they meant no harm to the animal and tried to care for it by feeding it and putting it in the shower when they woke up with hangovers, a situation reminiscent of the film, The Hangover. Jones and Mules took photo and video footage of the animal before releasing it into a canal, but were arrested after a friend saw updates they had posted about their antics on Facebook and reported them to police. Magistrate Brian Kucks heard how the pair had written a letter of apology to Sea World and the Australian public, and deeply regretted their actions. He was reported to have told the pair, “You could have found yourselves in a morgue if you’d gone into the wrong enclosure. Perhaps next time you are at a party you will consider drinking a little less vodka.” Vasilj, who is facing a single charge of trespassing, had his case adjourned to June 27.
It’s the penguin story that won’t go away. As the Penguin Post reported last week a trio of Welsh tourists visiting Australia had themselves quite a night which ended in a scenario that fans of the movie ‘The Hangover’ would no doubt recognize. Now a few more revealing details of that bleary night have emerged. It appears that after consuming too many “adult beverages” the trio broke into the local Sea World and took an impromptu swim with the dolphins. Not happy with simply a dip in the dolphin tank the three Welsh revelers moved on to the penguin exhibit, decided they needed some company and kidnapped a penguin. After that they claim things got a bit fuzzy. The following morning the trio said they were surprised (to say the least) to wake up with not just a hangover, but also a seven-year old Fairy penguin named Dirk in their room. Upon realizing they were not hallucinating and did indeed have a penguin in their room the three (stooges) decided the best course of action was not to alert the authorities or Sea World, but to make a video of Dirk the penguin in their room, then thinking they might get in trouble (duh) for stealing a penguin they packed Dirk up and drove him about a mile down the road to a nearby canal where they dumped him, apparently thinking that penguins like water, therefore any body of water should do.
Guys, for future reference penguins don’t like canals. It was not until the next day that a passersby noticed poor Dirk being chased by a dog that Sea World officials were notified and able to safely rescue him. Dirk was scared and a bit bruised but all things considered o.k. As for the men, it won’t take Jack McCoy to convict them, as even though they maintain they were too drunk to recall snatching the penguin, they apparently had the wherewithal to shoot a video, take Dirk to a nearby canal, and then made reference to the stolen penguin on Facebook. Given the social media posting it didn’t take long for the local authorities to figure out who the penguin-nappers were and arrest them. ‘We’re really sorry for all the trouble we’ve caused,” said one of the men, who are all facing charges of trespassing, stealing and unlawfully keeping a protected animal, and basically being just plain dumb. No comment from Dirk.
A bit of good holiday penguin news as the Penguin Post has learned that Little Blue penguins are flocking back to Warrnambool’s Middle Island in South Eastern Australia with the biggest influx since the population was almost wiped out by predators six years ago. An estimated 190 little penguins have arrived for the annual breeding season and at least 17 chicks and nine eggs have been counted so far. Maremma guardian dogs Eudy and Tula have also returned to the island to protect the colony from foxes and roaming dogs. More than 600 penguins and short-tailed shearwaters once lived on Middle Island, near Warrnambool’s breakwater, but dog and fox raids reduced penguin numbers to less than 10 by 2005. Warrnambool City Council and the local Coastcare Landcare group swung into action to help restore the population, with an award-winning Maremma dog project as the centerpiece. City council officer Justin Harzmeyer said the dogs had been returning to the island every year since the first four-week trial in 2006. He visits the island twice a day to feed and monitor the dogs. “It puts our minds at ease knowing the Maremmas are back there watching over them,” he said. Mr Harzmeyer said he was thrilled to see penguin numbers on the rise. Middle Island has been closed to the public since 2009, but now there will be opportunities this summer to see the birds up close.
The Penguin Post has learned that Australia’s Melbourne Aquarium has welcomed the first sub-Antarctic Gentoo penguin chicks of the 2011 breeding program.
The adult penguins have begun caring for the four fluffy hatchlings, with each parent taking turns to ensure their young ones stay warm. However, the penguins are not the only ones looking after the chicks, with vets also on hand to ensure that they survive the critical first few days. The new chicks, who have a fluffy-grey plumage, are also born with a hard white bump on their beak, known as a “pipping tooth”, which they use to break through the egg.
While the New Zealand Wildlife Response Center is attending to two blue penguins stricken by the oil on Papamoa and Little Waihi Beach in southern New Zealand, the center says to be helping two birds this soon highlights the coming danger from the recent oil spill. As Center Director Brett Gartrell told the Penguin Post, “To be getting oiled birds this early on in a spill is a very bad sign. We have a minimum number of animals we are expecting to deal with, but I expect this to grow.” The response center has been set up at the Wastewater Treatment Plant in Te Maunga can handle up to 500 birds, but with oiled birds already being found it is likely the center will need to extend it’s capacity, in which case further resources will be needed.
The penguins found today had heavy oil over their heads, chest and ingrained in their feathers.“The penguins lost their waterproofing and more importantly their ability to swim. These penguins had only recently been oiled. Some birds will die immediately or within hours of being oiled.” Brett says the penguins had also ingested some of the toxic oil that can harm the animal’s organs and cause death. “Ingesting the oil is also toxic. It will take between five to seven days to see if they have had a toxic reaction.” At the response center near Bayfair the birds are being washed and waterproofed.
“We put a stomach tube down the penguin’s throat and force fed them fluids and mackerel. The birds are then washed with canola oil in warm water and kept in ventilated cages overnight.” Once the birds become oiled Brett says there is a limited amount of time before they become hypothermic and vulnerable to predators so finding the birds and getting them straight to the treatment centre is essential. “When the birds lose their waterproofing they start to struggle in the water and become vulnerable to other marine life. At this stage the penguins are stable and fighting, which is a good sign.” In addition to the penguins, four seabirds were found dead yesterday by the slick and two oiled shags are being transported from Motiti Island to Te Maunga for treatment tonight. The two blue penguins will be kept in pools at the treatment center and will not be released until they are able to float for six hours.