Rescued Penguins Doing Well

The Penguin Post has learned that the penguin mother rescued with her chicks from Split Apple Rock several weeks ago is performing her maternal role so well her babies are now bigger than her, veterinarian Mana Stratton says. The Mahana veterinarian, with help from her mother, Frances Stratton, has been battling to save the lives of the penguin family after a dog attack at Split Apple near Kaiteriteri robbed the chicks of a parent, and the mother of a critical mate. Penguins chicks need both parents to raise them, Ms Stratton said. “All the penguins are doing well and both chicks are well above 1kg. The adult is still very dedicated to the chicks and currently gets six feeds a day. She is now lighter than both chicks, at just over 800g and will need to gain more weight before being released.” Ms Stratton said the chicks were on a diet of a part-feed twice a day and were each shedding their down to reveal adult feathers. The chicks were found by a Mapua family which saw the attack, and reported it to the Department of Conservation and the Tasman District Council. A member of the family then delivered the penguins to DOC, which took them to Ms Stratton who is a Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry vet with expertise in the care of exotic animals and marine wildlife. She said the family that rescued the penguins visited at the weekend, and the children, Max and Holly Goulter, named the penguins Split, Apple, and Rock. “Rock is the adult penguin as she is the `rock’ in the chicks’ life,” Ms Stratton said. The penguin family’s survival depended on their ability to feed and gain weight. The adult penguin was fed fish fillets, and then moved on to more fattening salmon smolt. The aim was to feed the parent enough so it could feed the chicks normally through regurgitating the food. DOC Motueka area manager Martin Rodd said it was an offence for dogs to kill wildlife, and dog owners could be prosecuted. DOC had passed on information about the dog incident to the Tasman District Council, which followed up. Regulatory manager Adrian Humphries said the two dogs involved had been identified and steps had been taken to make sure it did not happen again. He said the dogs’ owner was horrified by what had happened and had given a significant donation to a penguin welfare fund.

Mana Stratton with one of the little blue penguins rescued after a dog attack.

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