PMB man helps save stray penguin

2011-06-24 00:00

BEAST the penguin has a Pietermaritzburg resident to thank for his rescue, after Rushbrooke resident Gerhard Dippenaar came to his aid while on holiday at the Tugela Mouth Resort, north of Durban, earlier this month.

Dippenaar said he was surprised to find the exhausted penguin on the beach.

“It must have lost its way, but it survived, avoiding sharks all the way,” said Dippenaar.

He alerted staff at the resort who called uShaka Marine World to help.

Lauren Brouwer, spokesperson for uShaka Marine World, said the young penguin found itself in trouble and came out of the ocean to rest on a beach just north of Stanger.

uShaka staff drove up to fetch the young penguin.

“When he arrived at uShaka Marine World, the animal care staff immediately set out to rehydrate and support what was clearly a very compromised three- or four-month-old penguin.

“They were delighted when the next morning he showed signs of being hungry and was fed tiny fillets loaded with vitamins and antibiotics,” she said.

Brouwer said that the penguin steadily put on weight and over the next two weeks his weight increased from 1,8 kg to a hefty three kilograms.

“He has a ferocious appetite and eats around nine pilchards a day,” said Browuer.

“The staff called him Beast as they were determined to give him a strong name as he showed tremendous strength and determination in his journey back to health.

“He is still in the hospital facility and will remain there until fully recovered and able to swim, dive and display normal agility in the water,” she added.

Brouwer said Beast is well on his way to a full recovery.

“Penguins and sub-Antarctic fur seals do sometimes strand on KZN beaches during our winter months, which coincide with the annual sardine run. Sometimes these animals strand after severe weather in the Cape and leave the ocean in search of a comfortable place to rest before they head home,” she said.

She said African Penguins would have travelled around 1 800 km before reaching the KZN coastline.

Meanwhile, AFP reported this week that wildlife experts were astonished at the appearance of an Emperor penguin in New Zealand, some 3 000km from its Antarctic home.

The lost bird appears to be in good health and is taking regular swims to cool down in the relative warmth of the New Zealand climate. — WR.

ANYONE encountering a seal on the beach should contact Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife’s 24-hour hotline at 083 380 6298.

If you find a penguin, call uShaka Marine World at 031 328 8222 (office hours) or 031 328 8060 (after hours).

‘Do not attempt to touch, feed or move these tired visitors, but rather keep your distance and call for help,’ says Lauren Brouwer of uShaka Marine World.

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