Emperor penguin vagrant in New Zealand

This video is called Emperor penguins – The Greatest Wildlife Show on Earth – BBC.

From Associated Press:

Emperor penguin makes epic detour to New Zealand beach

Penguin took wrong turn from Antarctic and ended up in New Zealand – the first time in 44 years one has been sighted there

Tuesday 21 June 2011 09.23 BST

A young emperor penguin took a wrong turn from the Antarctic and ended up stranded on a New Zealand beach – the first time in 44 years the aquatic bird has been sighted in the south Pacific country.

Local resident Christine Wilton was taking her miniature Schnauzer dog Millie for a walk on Peka Peka beach on the North Island’s western coast when she discovered the bird.

“It was out of this world to see it … like someone just dropped it from the sky,” Wilton said.

Conservation experts say the penguin is about 10 months old and stands about 80cm (32 inches) high.

Emperor penguins are the tallest and largest species of penguin and can grow up to122cm high and weigh more than 34kg.

Colin Miskelly, a curator at Te Papa, the Museum of New Zealand, said the bird was likely to have been born during the last Antarctic winter. It may have been searching for squid and krill when it took a wrong turn.

He said emperor penguins can spend months at a time in the ocean, coming ashore only to molt or rest, but did not know what might have caused this particular one to become disoriented. Miskelly said the penguin appeared healthy and well fed, with plenty of body fat, and probably came ashore for a rest.

However, Miskelly said the penguin would need to find its way back south soon if it were to survive. Despite the onset of the New Zealand winter, the bird was probably hot and thirsty, he said, and it had been eating wet sand.

“It doesn’t realise that the sand isn’t going to melt inside it,” Miskelly said. “They typically eat snow, because it’s their only liquid.”

Emperor penguins’ amazing journey to breeding grounds deep in the Antarctic and their ability to survive the brutal winter there were captured in the 2005 documentary March of the Penguins.

Peter Simpson, a programme manager for New Zealand’s Ddepartment of conservation, said officials are asking people to stand back about 10m from the creature and to avoid letting dogs near it.

Other than that, he said, officials plan to let nature take its course. Simpson said the bird could live several weeks before needing another meal.

The last confirmed sighting of a wild emperor in New Zealand was in 1967 at the southern Oreti Beach, he said.

See also here.

Top medic operates on New Zealand’s ‘lost’ penguin: here.

Emperor Penguins Do the Wave to Keep Warm; video here.

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4 thoughts on “Emperor penguin vagrant in New Zealand

  1. Sick Penguin Offered Lift Home

    by The Associated Press

    June 25, 2011

    A young emperor penguin stranded in New Zealand has survived two medical procedures and now has an offer of a lift home.

    Yet the aquatic bird that many are calling Happy Feet — after the lighthearted 2006 movie — is not out of danger yet. The penguin remained on an intravenous drip Saturday and faces another procedure Monday to remove more sand from its digestive system.

    If it does pull through, a businessman wants to take it by boat to Antarctica next February.

    Happy Feet arrived on Peka Peka Beach, about 40 miles (65 kilometers) northwest of Wellington, last Monday, the first time in 44 years that an emperor penguin has been spotted in the wild in New Zealand. Typically, emperors spend their entire lives in and around Antarctica.

    At first Happy Feet seemed fine, but as the week progressed, the bird became more lethargic. It ate a lot of sand, apparently mistaking it for snow, which emperor penguins eat in Antarctica to hydrate themselves during the frozen winters.

    By Friday, conservation officials decided its condition had worsened to the point that it would likely die without intervention. So they transported the penguin in a tub of ice to the Wellington Zoo.

    Zoo spokeswoman Kate Baker said the bird was put on anesthesia for 2 1/2 hours Friday while veterinarians flushed its throat and stomach with water to remove sand. A second procedure on Saturday was more of the same, yet the penguin’s digestive system still remained clogged.

    Baker said staff want to give the bird a break Sunday but plan a third flushing procedure Monday. The bird remained on an intravenous drip Saturday to help it rehydrate.

    New Zealand investment adviser Gareth Morgan, who is leading an expedition to Antarctica next February, on Saturday offered Happy Feet a trip home aboard a Russian icebreaker. But it would not be for another eight months.

    “Of course until that time Happy Feet will have to be cared for here in Wellington, where we’re lucky enough to have a great community of wildlife experts, capable not just of pumping sand but also ensuring this wayfaring fellow is hosted appropriately until it’s time to set sail,” Morgan wrote on his website.

    “A sea passage is far more akin to the animal’s natural rite of passage across the Southern Ocean than any trip in a Globelifter jet might be, with no risk of deep vein thrombosis,” Morgan added jokingly.

    Whether officials choose to take Morgan up on his offer may depend on Happy Feet’s health.

    Peter Simpson, a program manager for New Zealand’s Department of Conservation, said earlier in the week that there was a chance the bird might have picked up a disease in warmer climes which staff wouldn’t want to introduce back into the Antarctic colony.

    If a trip back to the Antarctic doesn’t pan out, there’s always the offer of a more sheltered life.

    Lauren DuBois, assistant curator of birds at SeaWorld in San Diego, which has the only colony of emperor penguins in North America, said SeaWorld would be willing to step in and help. Thirty birds live there in a 25-degree Fahrenheit (minus 4 Celsius) habitat that simulates Antarctica, with up to 5,000 pounds (2,270 kilograms) of snow blown in every day.

    Estimated to be about 10 months old, Happy Feet probably was born during the last Antarctic winter and may have been searching for squid and krill when it got lost. Experts haven’t yet determined whether it is male or female.

    The rare venture north captured the public’s imagination, with school groups, sightseers and news crews coming to the beach to see the penguin and photograph it from a distance.

    The amazing journey of emperors, the tallest and largest species of penguin, to breeding grounds deep in the Antarctic was chronicled in the 2005 documentary “March of the Penguins,” which highlighted their ability to survive — and breed — despite the region’s brutal winters.


    Associated Press writer Sue Manning in Los Angeles contributed to this report


  2. Pingback: Emperor penguin in New Zealand getting better | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  3. Pingback: Antarctic penguin fossils | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  4. Pingback: Emperor penguins, new research | Dear Kitty. Some blog

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