07 February 2012

Little penguin saved by belly fat

NEW ZEALAND - Many of us try to avoid carrying too much fat on our bellies, but a little penguin who survived a savage dog attack on New Plymouth's Back Beach should be grateful for his.

The bird, who suffered injuries to his abdomen, is recovering at Massey University's Wildlife Health Centre after two rounds of surgery.

Dr Brett Gartrell told the Taranaki Daily News the penguin was lucky that the dog grabbed mostly skin and fat rather than the abdomen.

''He was in good condition coming up to his moult with quite a bit of weight on. If he didn't have that fat on there would have been damage to his internal organs."

Dr Gartrell said the bird's wounds are deep and infected, but they will know in a few weeks whether he is ready to be released into the wild or will need to be placed in temporary care until he is fully recovered.

Department of Conservation marine ranger Callum Lilley told the Taranaki Daily News that the attack served as a reminder for people to control their dogs when they are at the beach. 

"People don't like to think that their dog would attack wildlife, but to a dog, its just natural behaviour.'' 

Penguin attacked a Back Beach by Natalie Finnigan, 13 January 2012, Taranaki Daily News

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