19 November 2011

Life's looking up for penguins Split, Apple and Rock

NEW ZEALAND - A little penguin family who lost their dad to a dog attack is doing well thanks to dedicated humans and a dedicated penguin mum.

Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry veterinarian Mana Stratton and her mother Frances have been looking after the three penguins after a dog attack at Split Apple, near Kaiteriteri on the South Island, robbed the chicks of a parent and the female adult of a critical mate in October, the Nelson Mail reported.

The chicks and their dead father were found by a family, who reported the attack to the Department of Conservation (DOC) and the Tasman District Council. Once the mother returned to the nest, the penguins were brought to DOC, who took them to Ms Stratton. Penguin chicks need both parents to raise them, so the mother needed help if the chicks were to survive.

The family who rescued the penguins have visited them and the children named the birds Split, Apple and Rock.

"Rock is the adult penguin as she is the 'rock' in the chick's life," Miss Stratton told the Nelson Mail.

Ms Stratton's aim has been to give Rock enough food that she can feed Split and Apple normally by regurgitation. Rock has been such a good mum that the chicks now weight more than her, and Ms Stratton said she will need to gain more weight before she is released.

The Tasman District Council has since identified the dogs responsible for the attack. Regulatory manager Adrian Humphries told the Nelson Mail that steps had been taken to ensure it didn't happen again. The dogs' owner was horrified and had given a donation to a penguin welfare fund.

Rescued penguins blossom by Tracy Neal, Nelson Mail, 16 November 2011
Vet battles for penguins' survival by Tracy Neal, Nelson Mail, 27 October 2011

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