Beached New Zealand Emperor Penguin Ailing

This just in to the Penguin Post.  The emperor penguin from Peka Peka beach is due to undergo surgery this afternoon to find out why its condition has deteriorated. ‘Happy Feet’ was earlier taken to Wellington Zoo in a chilled box from the Kapiti Coast after the penguin’s behaviour changed markedly in the last few days. Conservation Department staff and penguin specialists have put Happy Feet into a room full of ice and will set up a air conditioner to keep the bird cool. DOC biodiversity manager Peter Simpson said veterinarians and Massey University penguin specialists had decided to move the emperor penguin after his condition deteriorated. A cordon had earlier been put up around the penguin keeping people about 40m away. The juvenile emperor penguin, which stands about a metre tall and weighs about 10 kilograms, was first spotted on Peka Peka Beach on Monday afternoon. But this morning its condition was such that it was lying on its stomach with its head on the sand. Chris Wilton, who first found the penguin on Monday, was on the beach this morning in tears. “I am really sad they [the Department of Conservation] did not do something earlier.” She said she wanted to go and say goodbye but DOC staff would not let her through the cordon. Staff from the department had headed to the site this morning after reports the penguin was acting strangely. Te Papa’s curator of terrestrial vertebrates Dr Colin Miskelly said the penguin had been acting inappropriately by eating sticks. Simpson earlier said the penguin was lethargic, and its behaviour was markedly different to the past few days. He said it might have an infection from eating sticks. Simpson said the biggest today’s concern was that it was sunny and the heat would adversely affect the penguin. “This morning when we checked it, it was still alive on the beach but it appears its condition has deteriorated a bit,” Simpson said. The penguin had been eating sand since it arrived – which might be an effort to cool itself down. Penguins normally eat snow if they get too hot. Returning the bird to Antarctica was not feasible because there was no transport there in winter and experts advised that large birds could suffer trauma if transported long distances, penguin expert Associate Professor John Cockrem from Massey University said. It is only the second recorded incident of an emperor penguin on New Zealand shores. A group of residents kept guard on the beach on Wednesday night and told DOC that drunken youths were “making a bloody nuisance of themselves”.

Ailing Emperor On The Beach In New Zealand

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