En­dan­gered pen­guin bound for Syd­ney

The Wellingtonian - - Front Page - RUBY MACANDREW

An en­dan­gered pen­guin who has called Welling­ton home for the past three years is wav­ing her flip­per good­bye, and with help from some spe­cial ad­mir­ers. Gari, the Tawaki Fiord­land Crested Pen­guin, will de­part Welling­ton Zoo later this month to live out what zoo staff hope will be a long and happy life at Syd­ney’s Taronga Zoo.

‘‘Gari’s sit­u­a­tion is rare and even though she is an en­dan­gered Tawaki, she can’t be re­turned to the wild, so we still wanted to give her an­other chance at a good life,’’ Welling­ton Zoo’s animal sci­ence man­ager Si­mon Eyre said.

Gari was a ju­ve­nile bird when she was orig­i­nally found in Hok­i­tika with ex­ten­sive wounds to her lower ab­domen and to her left foot. She was treated by a West Coast vet team be­fore be­ing flown to Welling­ton to re­ceive fur­ther treat­ment at The Nest Te Ko­hanga in late 2014.

‘‘We per­formed a gen­eral health check and mul­ti­ple surg­eries to re­pair her var­i­ous wounds,’’ se­nior vet Baukje Lent­ing said. ‘‘We still don’t know how Gari sus­tained her in­juries but due to the sever­ity of the wound around her lower ab­domen, her vent has changed shape and lo­ca­tion since heal­ing. This means she would likely strug­gle to pro­duce and lay fer­tile eggs in the wild.’’

While Gari has been re­ceiv­ing treat­ment at the Zoo, she had gained quite a few ad­mir­ers, in­clud­ing Aus­tralian High Com­mis­sioner Peter Wool­cott and his wife Tanya, who Welling­ton Zoo chief ex­ec­u­tive Karen Fi­field said had helped ar­range Gari’s trans­fer to Syd­ney.

Eyre said the zoo con­sulted with the Depart­ment of Con­ser­va­tion, the West Coast Pen­guin Trust and the lo­cal iwi, Ngai Tahu and Te Ru­nanga o Makaawhio, as to where the pen­guin would live per­ma­nently, as there was no fa­cil­ity suit­able in New Zealand.

Taronga Zoo is the only place in the world where Fiord­land Crested Pen­guins are looked af­ter per­ma­nently in hu­man care.

‘‘We know Gari will be in great hands with the animal care team at Taronga Zoo,’’ Eyre said. ‘‘They have a lot of knowl­edge about look­ing af­ter this species of pen­guin, and the zoo cur­rently has two other res­cued Tawaki at their fa­cil­ity to keep her com­pany.’’

The zoo will be hold­ing a bless­ing and farewell cer­e­mony in Gari’s hon­our on May 15.

‘‘We know Gari will be in great hands with the animal care team at Taronga Zoo.’’

Tawaki Fiord­land Crested Pen­guin Gari is leav­ing Welling­ton Zoo af­ter nearly three years. WELLING­TON ZOO Si­mon Eyre

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