12 March 2017

Penguin hospital saves five percent of yellow-eyed population

NEW ZEALAND – The penguin hospital at Otago Polytechnic’s School of Veterinary Nursing has had 24 yellow-eyed penguins through in the last six weeks.

With only 250 breeding pairs in the wild this year, that means that wildlife vet Lisa Argilla has saved five percent of the breeding population.

“Yellow-eyed penguins are one of the rarest penguins in the world, and are unique to New Zealand.  If we don’t look after them now, they will die out” Dr Argilla said.

The ‘pop-up’ penguin hospital has been funded by the Yellow-eyed Penguin Trust. They realised that flying the rare birds to Wellington for hospitalisation wasn’t ideal.

“One of the main problems we face is infection from wounds,” said Dr Argilla.

“Here, in Dunedin, we can start intravenous antibiotics within 24 hours. Because of that, our success rate of saving birds is much higher.”

Dr Argilla has had a lot of interest in Buster the boomerang penguin. She amputated one of Buster’s toes two years ago in Wellington. He was brought back for care two weeks ago from Papanui Inlet with abdominal injuries – possibly from a blue shark.

Buster has now been taken back to Penguin Place Conservation Reserve where he will be fattened up before returning to the wild.

“It’s satisfying to see the birds make it through hospitalisation so successfully,” Dr Argilla said.

“I already have ten penguins in the hospital – six newly injured birds came in this week.”

The penguin hospital has enough funding to last until mid-March.

5 percent of YEP population saved at Otago Polytechnic [press release], 1 March 2017, Otago Polytechnic

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