Penguin’s fate uncertain
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.