A group of rescued orphaned yellow-eyed penguin
chicks appear to ponder their release choices before turning
tail back up a privately accessed Otago Peninsula beach
yesterday - only for Penguin Place manager Lisa King to
gently encourage them to head out to sea.
The eight chicks appeared unsure of their surroundings but
eventually all braved the surf, where only their heads
occasionally bobbing above the waves could be seen. The
release was deemed a success by Ms King, whose staff had been
looking after the chicks since they were brought to the
Penguin Place ''hospital'' after their parents died in a
''mass mortality'' event on the peninsula.
Photos by Craig Baxter.
''We've given them a second chance. They would have died
if they hadn't been brought in.''
With the chicks attaining 5.5kg after hand feeding at Penguin
Place they were deemed heavy enough to survive in the wild.
''We've done all we can for them. At this point its all up to
them. They'll quickly adapt to fending for themselves.''
Staff would check the beach regularly to see if any returned
but most were expected to remain at sea and not return until
Yellow-eyed Penguin Trust general manager Sue Murray said she
had ''all her fingers and toes crossed'' that the penguins
It was doubly important they survived given the loss of about
60 adults from the peninsula this season, the cause of which
was still unknown.
Penguin Place still had 50 adults and chicks in its hospital,
including three snares and a rockhopper. Ten more yellow-eyed
penguins would be released next week.