Zoo floats op­tions for its lone blue pen­guin

Auckland City Harbour News - - News - By Jo­ce­lyn Rein

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.

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