Waddle it be? Freedom, thanks

Elm Wildlife Tours co-owner Shaun Templeton releases Buster the yellow-eyed penguin on Little...
Elm Wildlife Tours co-owner Shaun Templeton releases Buster the yellow-eyed penguin on Little Papanui Beach on Otago Peninsula yesterday, as farmer David McKay watches. PHOTO: STEPHEN JAQUIERY
Buster, the beleaguered penguin, has put on his winter coat and returned home.

Elm Wildlife Tours co-owner Shaun Templeton was leading a tour group when he found the Dunedin yellow-eyed penguin at Little Papanui Beach on Otago Peninsula about two months ago.

The penguin had a nasty shark bite across his abdomen.

``He was looking pretty grim and I didn't have high hopes for him.''

Mr Templeton rushed him to the care of Yellow-Eyed Penguin Trust wildlife vet Dr Lisa Argilla at the Otago Polytechnic's Veterinary Nursing School.

Dr Argilla had operated on Buster before, after a barracouta bit off his toe about two years ago.

Buster survived the shark attack and recovered at Penguin Place at Harington Point, with a fattening diet of oily fish.

Farmer David McKay, whose land adjoins the beach, picked up Buster from the private conservation reserve yesterday.

The caged penguin was put on the back of a ute and driven across the 330ha sheep and beef farm in Cape Saunders to the beach.



Dr Argilla came to watch Buster's release.

``He's one of my favourite patients ...

``I had to see him released and I hope it's the last time I see him.

``Go wild, be free, don't come to hospital again,'' Dr Argilla said, as Buster was released.

As the big bird hopped up a steep hill to be with his peers Wilma McKay, Mr McKay's wife said: ``Welcome home Buster. Whoa, look at the size of him - he's huge and gorgeous.''

``He's such a tubber,'' Dr Argilla said.

Mr McKay came to the defence of the portly penguin.

``He's not fat, he's just got big feathers.''

Once Buster moults, he will return to the sea again and brave the dangers of the deep blue.

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