A close shave

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

A close shave

'Prop' came into care after an argument with an outboard motor. His right flipper had been nearly cut off and he had a large wound on his rump from a propeller. He was given a course of antibiotics for 7 days to fight infection and luckily the flipper was saved or else he would have been unable to be released.

When he came into care he weighed only 650 grams. We knew that before he would be able to be released he would need to almost double his weight to be able to survive back in the wild.

So was "fattened" up on pilchards and whitebait. They can eat squid and fillets of any type of fish also, as long as it has not been treated in any way. They cannot be fed anything that has, for example, been packed in salt or tinned as this will cause death within 24 hours.

He had to be force fed as penguins do not recognize dead fish as food. We dip the food in seawater and then feed head first. As he became stronger he was eating 200 grams of fish every day.

Once he showed signs of recovery and was gaining weight we started his exercises. This involved swimming him every day. Every day we have to supply fresh clean sea water. Many trips were made each day filling up jerry cans of sea water. Penguins in care need the water for both feeding and swimming.

The water must be kept clean. Swimming allows the penguin to build up muscle tone, promotes preening of their feathers and gets them off their feet for a while. We start off with quick dunking sessions and build up to longer swims.

When he was ready for release we took him to Pambula during the day so we could watch him go out to sea. Prop swam strongly and we were sad but satisfied to see the little guy go.

Without financial help from the public WIRES would not be able to help injured wildlife. Please think about donating this financial year.

Story and image thanks to Janine Green

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