Penguin Place rehabilitation co-ordinator Julia Clement feeds some of the recovering 80 starving chicks in the newly extended ''hospital'' on Otago Peninsula. Photo by Craig Baxter.
A sudden influx of 80 mostly starving yellow-eyed penguins is
stretching the resources of Otago Peninsula's penguin
''Some, when they first came in, looked awful. They were
skinny and sunken-in,'' Penguin Place rehabilitation
co-ordinator Julia Clement said.
About 80kg of fish is needed each day to help the penguins
gain enough weight so they can head out to sea with a good
chance of survival.
It is thought a lack of food at sea is the result of high sea
temperatures, which means adults are coming back to feed
their chicks less frequently - and with less food.
To help chicks and adults survive moulting, the Department of
Conservation is removing chicks from the wild to allow for
supplementary feeding, therefore giving them a greater chance
Supplementary feeding is being provided by Katiki Point
Penguin Trust volunteers for 39 chicks in North Otago.
Penguin Place's penguin hospital regularly looks after about
100 birds a season, but this year's sudden influx meant
having to double the size of its enclosure and provide more
Manager Lisa King said businesses and fishing companies such
as Sanford, Harbourside Fish, United Fisheries and Talley's
had been generous at short notice, but even more fish was
''We urgently need more fish and would like to hear from
fishing companies which can help.''
Ms Clement said the penguins were fed twice a day. That and
cleaning the pens took two staff 2.5 hours each every day.
Some penguins had to be force-fed. Others were able to take
food offered by hand.
''It's physically exhausting work.''
The 80 penguins would continue to be fed until they weighed
5kg and were showing signs of being ready to go to sea, Ms
They would then be released - probably later this month or in