Pen­guin’s fate un­cer­tain

Central Leader - - News - By Jo­ce­lyn Rein

Coral the lonely pen­guin could soon be pack­ing her bags for an ex­tended hol­i­day from her home at Auck­land Zoo.

She is all that re­mains of the zoo’s blue pen­guin colony af­ter her com­pan­ions Ani, Henry, Lucy, Pluto and MacGon­a­gal died in a se­ries of un­re­lated in­ci­dents dur­ing the past eight 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 im­me­di­ately.

He says the zoo is in­ves­ti­gat­ing where it can pro­cure new birds.

That 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, and two were re­lated to gout and weight loss.

The two sur­viv­ing birds were put in a tem­po­rary en­clo­sure and af­ter try­ing to es­cape, the fifth bird drowned in a bucket that 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 opened in 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.

Mr Batty says while pen­guins are so­cial birds and staff are not happy Coral is alone, 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 in a spe­cial off-dis­play aviary.

He says there were al­ready plans and $100,000 al­lo­cated for 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 re-meshed and Mr Batty says changes will also be made to im­prove the man­age­ment of the pen­guins.

If Coral is sent away she will def­i­nitely be brought back to the zoo with a new group of friends to co­in­cide with the breed­ing sea­son later in the year, he says.

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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