Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 1 October 2014

Penguin dies 1,000 miles from home

The royal penguin is fighting for life after being found on a New Zealand beach (AP/Wellington Zoo)

A Penguin found stranded on a New Zealand beach more than 1,000 miles from its home has died.

The royal penguin was found on Sunday by hikers, emaciated and suffering kidney failure, and was taken to Wellington Zoo, but vets there were unable to save it.

It was just the fourth time over the past 100 years that a royal penguin has been found on the North Island of New Zealand. They generally live more than 1,000 miles away around Macquarie Island, about halfway between New Zealand and Antarctica.

Lisa Argilla, the veterinary science manager at the zoo, said they suspect the penguin suffered multiple organ failure. She said the zoo did the best it could, but the penguin was severely underweight, and had no reserves.

Its arrival had revived memories of another penguin, an emperor nicknamed Happy Feet, that turned up in 2011 and whose recovery at the zoo captured the hearts of many before he was released.

Royal penguins have a yellow crest, eat krill and squid and are considered a threatened species but not endangered. They shed all their feathers during an annual moult, which the New Zealand penguin had been doing when found.

Jenny Boyne, who lives near Tora Beach where the penguin was found, said she drove it to the zoo in a fish crate after staff suggested she bring it in. "It sat down like a little quiet lamb," she said.

The bird stood up briefly a couple of times and honked but generally lay still for the two-hour journey, she said.

She turned up the air conditioning and sprayed the bird with water after zoo staff instructed her to keep it cool.

The penguin was about one year old, weighed 6 pounds, was 20 inches long and its sex had not been determined.

www.wellingtonzoo.com/ (Wellington Zoo)

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