Dr Hiltrun Ratz feeds yellow-eyed penguin chicks as a
snares penguin (centre) tries to muscle in at the
rehabilitation centre at Penguin Place on Otago Peninsula.
Photo by Peter McIntosh.
Looking after the chicks orphaned by the mysterious
deaths of adult yellow-eyed penguins on Otago Peninsula has
become a full-time job.
The chicks, who have lost one or both parents, are
transported to the rehabilitation centre at Penguin Place,
where they are fed and looked after until they are at the
optimum weight to be released back into the wild. Penguin
Place resident scientist Dr Hiltrun Ratz said 30 yellow-eyed
penguin chicks, plus three adults and three juveniles, were
being looked after.
The recent deaths of more than 40 adult penguins on the
peninsula meant many chicks on the brink of fledging needed
''The season had gone really well until now. It will take
those colonies years to recover,'' Dr Ratz said.
''They're very lucky to have been found by us or Doc [the
Department of Conservation]. We make them fat again and then
let them go.''
The chance of rehabilitation was much better when the chicks
were rescued while still in good condition.
As Penguin Place was looking after two snares penguins and
two Fiordland crested penguins, as well as the yellow-eyeds,
it was taking two hours twice a day to feed them all, Dr Ratz
There was also the cleaning and the two to three hours it
took to cut up the 1kg of fish each bird ate a day.
Luckily, Bluff fishing company Urwin and Co Ltd had donated
2.5 tonnes of smooth dory, which had eased the burden of
feeding the chicks, she said.