NEW ZEALAND - It took a month or so, but Morgan the reluctant swimmer has finally took the plunge and has taken to the water like ... well, like a penguin.
The white-flippered penguin who refused to get his feet wet is now fully in the swim with the others in the penguin colony at The Antarctic Attraction in Christchurch, and happy to be one of the gang.
But it has taken much coaxing, encouragement and lots of tender loving care before the little 16-year-old found the confidence to slip into the pool for the first time at the end of June.
“It was a fantastic moment and we were all very excited,” said David Ferrand, Operations Manager at The Antarctic Attraction.
“He’s a good looking penguin and he socialised and meandered about a bit at first, and then very cautiously got in the pool.
“There was only 'Bagpipes' another male penguin in the pool when he was introduced to the colony, and he obviously enjoyed all the attention. But within about five minutes of him being there he took the plunge.”
After swimming about for a couple of minutes Morgan got out and proceeded to start making friends with the other 24 penguins in the colony, including Parnia, a single white-flippered penguin that penguin keeper Mallorie Hackett hopes will befriend the newcomer.
“Morgan is a real character and he’s definitely a ladies’ man. Seeing him swimming about in the pool was just great because when he came to us he couldn’t get out of water fast enough. He used to use his beak and flippers to haul himself out,” said Mallorie.
He is now approaching Mallorie and the other keepers in the enclosure with the other penguins and has set up home in one of the burrows.
The keepers are excited that Morgan has settled in so well with the routine of the rest of the penguins.
It is not known why the little white-flippered penguin, who was found skinny and lost at Flea Bay, Banks Peninsula in early May, refused to swim, and Antarctic Attraction staff say they have never before seen such behaviour in a mature penguin from the wild.
Morgan spent 46 days in isolation in stringent quarantine at the Attraction before being introduced to the colony, which he can now call home.
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Morgan's in the swim at last, 28 June 2011, Durning PR