26 October 2011

Builders racing to finish housing for hundreds of rescued penguins

NEW ZEALAND - A new enclosure for little blue penguins at the Wildlife Response Centre at Te Maunga is well on its way to completion. It was planned that three of the 10 planned aviaries would be complete by the afternoon of 25 October.

Each aviary can house up to approximately 25 penguins, and has an indoor pool and communal areas for the penguins to preen, feed and swim.

Oiled Wildlife Response Manager Kerri Morgan said it was important to monitor the penguin’s health and condition, especially at feeding times.

“Correct feeding is a critical part of the rehabilitation process and our staff take great care when feeding the penguins.

“We use either sprats or anchovies and need to ensure that none of the natural oils from the fish get on the birds’ feathers as this can damage their natural waterproofing. The penguins are all doing really well and have a great fighting spirit,” said Ms Morgan.

“We have 314 penguins in our care and the enclosures will be able to house them more comfortably long term. It is too early at the moment to say when they can be released, but we want to ensure all the penguins are healthy and well nourished before this takes place.”

The penguins get fed twice a day and eat five to seven fish per feeding. They also have one swim a day. This lets them condition and preen their feathers, which is crucial to their re-waterproofing.

In total the centre now has 379 live birds in its care, including 108 oiled penguins and 206 clean penguins. There are also New Zealand dotterels, pied shags, a shearwater and a tern, which are also clean.

The total number of dead birds as at 6pm 24 October is 1,370. Post-mortems are being carried out on the birds to determine if oiling is the cause of death.

Rena update #51, 25 October 2011, Maritime NZ

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