12 February 2017

Buster the penguin busted up again

NEW ZEALAND – The yellow-eyed penguin hospital at Otago Polytechnic’s School of Veterinary Nursing is full with healing penguins. One is even back for a second visit with wildlife vet Lisa Argilla.

Dr Argilla recognised the unlucky penguin while checking huge gashes across his abdomen and right foot. He was her patient in 2015 when he was flown to her at Wellington Zoo for treatment.  At that time, she had to amputate his right toe. She nicknamed the bird “Buster” and hoped that was the last she’d see of him. But he was recently found injured at Papanui Beach on Otago Peninsula.

“I am pleased to report that the amputated toe is looking terrific and he’s coping well. He also has chicks so is able to reproduce. This is the best result as it was, of course, risky removing the toe but it seems the risk was worth it," she said.

"It’s unfortunate he’s now been attacked by something else – I suspect a blue shark based on his injuries.”

Sadly, the Snares crested penguin who had been at the hospital since it opened in mid-January died on 8 February. He had a large injury to his abdomen, and unfortunately died when coming out of anaesthesia.

“This is a very sad outcome as after [the] surgery, the wound looked perfect and I was confident he would have been able to survive once he moulted and re-grew his feathers” Dr Argilla said.

There are currently six yellow-eyed penguins at the hospital. Their injuries range from fractured bones to bite wounds and lacerations.

Once Dr Argilla has treated them and the birds are stable, they are taken to Penguin Place on Otago Peninsula for rehabilitation before being released to where they were found.

Dr Argilla is running a wildlife hospital at the Otago Polytechnic School of Veterinary Nursing for the summer. She has found that by being close to the injured birds they have a better chance of survival. Previously, they were flown to Wellington or Palmerston North for vet care.

Dr Argilla’s time in the south has been funded by the Yellow-Eyed Penguin Trust.

Buster busted up again! [press release], 9 February 2017, Otago Polytechnic

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