Zoo floats options for its lone blue penguin
Coral the lonely penguin may soon be packing her bags for an extended holiday from her home at the Auckland Zoo.
She is all that remains of the zoo’s blue penguin colony after her five companions, Ani, Henry, Lucy, Pluto and MacGonagal, died in a series of unrelated incidents in the past six months.
Acting curator Michael Batty says the options are to either send Coral to another zoo while they revamp her enclosure or to get other birds in straight away.
He says the zoo is investigating where they can source new birds from.
This will most likely be rescue centres or captive breeding programmes.
Problems began in July last year when the group of birds began dying one by one, from what the zoo believes are unrelated causes.
One was because of enteritis, one was pneumonia, two were related to gout and weight-loss.
The two remaining birds were transferred to a temporary enclosure and, after trying to escape, the fifth bird drowned in a bucket which was being used to prop up the enclosure.
Until last year, there had been no problems in the Sealion and Penguin Shores exhibit since it was opened in late-2001.
Testing of the water in the enclosure has been ongoing and was intensified in October last year, but all results showed no change in the water quality.
While Mr Batty says penguins are social birds and they’re not happy Coral is on her own, there is no immediate concern about her health.
“They do respond better to company.”
He says keepers are giving her extra attention while she remains on her own in a special off-display aviary.
He says there were already plans and $100,000 allocated to the redevelopment of the penguin enclosure this year.
“We want to do something better than what’s there at the moment.”
The aviary will close temporarily later this year while it is remeshed and Mr Batty says some changes will also be made to improve the management of the penguins.
If Coral is sent away, he says she will definitely be brought back to the zoo with a new group of friends later in the year to coincide with breeding season.
The zoo expects to make a decision in the next few weeks.
All alone: Auckland Zoo is deciding what is best for its remaining blue penguin.