11 April 2011

Rescued penguins become California girls and boys

USA - It's been a long, strange journey for five young Magellanic penguins who started their migration in the southern tip of South America, became stranded on a beach in Brazil, and are now living in California.

The penguins are some of hundreds who were stranded on Brazilian beaches last year. These five rescued birds now have a home at Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach.

"You don't normally find these penguins much farther north than the Falkland islands," said Dudley Wigdahl, the Aquarium's curator of marine mammals and birds. "The locations of their food sources are changing, perhaps due to climate change, and penguins are having to travel farther in search of food."

After they were rescued, some of the penguins were strong enough to return to the wild while others were deemed unreleasable due to health issues.

"When these penguins stranded in Rio, they were frail and emaciated after such a long swim up the Atlantic coast of South America. We're happy to be able to provide a home and medical care for these unreleasable animals," said Mr Wigdahl.

The new penguins will not be on exhibit until the summer of 2012, when the Aquarium debuts the June Keyes Penguin Habitat. Until then, they will be cared for by the aviculturist team and veterinary staff in the Aquarium’s behind-the-scenes holding area.

"They're adjusting very well and they tell a great story. They are ambassadors for their species," Mr Wigdahl told the Press-Telegram

"They're going to be very important birds, because they are from the wild and they will help with the genetic stock across the zoological groups that breed penguins. In the future these will be important birds."

Read previous post: "Survivor" penguins sent from Brazil to US

Rescued penguins arrive at Aquarium of the Pacific today, 4 April 2011, OC180News
Wild penguin flock lands in Long Beach after Rio trip, 8 April 2011, Press-Telegram

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