21 February 2015

Little penguin Flipper's sad death has positive outcomes for conservation

NEW ZEALAND – Flipper, the paralysed little penguin who appeared in the media in early January, has had to be euthanised despite weeks of care and rehabilitation.

“Unfortunately upon release it became apparent that this individual wasn’t going to survive in his natural environment," said Mauao Area Wildlife Trust director Julia Graham.

"Despite excellent vet treatment and rehabilitation care not all sick and injured wildlife can be saved.”

The Department of Conservation is working in partnership with the Mauao Area Wildlife Trust and other volunteer organisations to grow the conservation of penguins and other seabirds around the Mount area.

“Despite the sad outcome here, working with Flipper has helped us develop a coalition of volunteer organisations focused on penguin rescue and rehabilitation,” said Department of Conservation Ranger Kirsten Wood.

The future is looking bright for the population as a whole.

“It’s exciting to think how much wildlife is living along the rocky shores and bush clad areas of the Mount and it is great to see the community working together to protect it.”

Flipper was found partially paralysed at Maketu beach at New Year and was placed under the care of veterinarian Dr Liza Schneider at ARRC Wildlife Trust in Tauranga. The penguin regained the use of his legs and flippers, but was still very skinny and not preening himself properly.

For rehabilitation purposes, Flipper went to Oropi Native Bird Care Trust run by Chrissy Jefferson. He put on weight and was properly waterproofed by the time a decision was made to release him earlier this week.

The Mauao Area Wildlife Trust, who had worked closely with all parties involved during Flipper's rehabilitation, made the decision to euthanise in consultation with the vets at ARRC Wildlife Trust.

“This sad outcome has been a learning curve for the parties involved,” said Ms Graham.

“We’re committed to doing as much as we can for the local penguin and seabird population around the Mount and it is great to be working in partnership with others to do it.”

Source
Sad outcome for Flipper the penguin [media release], 18 February 2015, Department of Conservation

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