22 November 2011

Wildlife ICU keeps penguins in top shape

NEW ZEALAND - Most of the more than 400 birds rescued from the Rena oil spill and being looked after at the oiled wildlife facility in Te Maunga are now in good health, but a small number require ongoing veterinary care in the intensive care unit.

Massey University wildlife veterinarian Micah Jensen said there are eight little blue penguins in the unit that have a range of ailments.

“There are birds that have picked up respiratory infections, one with a cloacal prolapse, another has a corneal ulcer,” Ms Jensen said.

Birds in the unit are monitored closely. “We give them all checks every morning and evening,” she said. “They get excellent intensive care, as we are around the patients all day long.”

Ms Jensen, who is one of four wildlife veterinarians in Massey’s resident programme, said the experience at the facility is invaluable.

“As a wildlife vet resident it is intensely rewarding to do this kind of work,” she said.

“The penguins are adorable, they are very full of character and are really nice to work with. Each one is quite individual and they are really personable, spirited and vocal. They let you know if you’re doing something they don’t like, there’s no grey area.”

The vast majority of birds in the ICU are getting better, she said.

“We are picking up problems at the beginning so are able to treat them early, which really helps. These birds are lucky to have skilled, observant people around them.

“It’s a great feeling when a penguin is well enough to graduate to the outdoor aviaries.”

Wildlife ICU keeps penguins in top shape, 14 November 2011, Massey University

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