Gary the penguin gets special treatment

Gary in the tub c rOn Westland Anniversary Day (1 December), a juvenile Fiordland crested penguin (tawaki) was found on Hokitika beach, in need of protection and tender care.

It’s likely that he or she hatched some three months earlier in South Westland and had been tumbled around in rough seas in the week or so prior to being found.  Apart from some faint marks on one foot, the bird appeared well and keen to be fed, having been protected from loose dogs by a local family until help could arrive. 

Gary Lee, New World supermarket owner/manager in Hokitika, kindly supplied some fish for the penguin, so we named the little fellow Gary.  (We still don’t know if he’s a he or she, but we’re sticking with Gary!)

Gary Fiordland crested penguinGary (the penguin) was keen to splash around in a laundry tub and a bath, which was when we noticed that things weren’t quite right.  A visit to the West Coast Vets found that this tough little bird had probably been bitten by a seal and had a prolapsed cloaca (the single posterior opening that serves as the only opening for the intestinal, reproductive and urinary tracts) and a large wound in that area.  His foot had probably been bitten too and there was a worry about serious infection there.

Dr Lisa Argilla, Veterinary Science Manager at Wellington Zoo’s ‘The Nest Te Kohanga’, offered to take over the care of little Gary, so local DOC Ranger, Mark Martini, made up a transport box and, after 24 hours of fog delays and with thanks to Air New Zealand, Gary boarded the plane at Hokitika and flew off on his way to Wellington.  (Yes, penguins can sometimes fly!) 2014-12-10 5 Graeme Jackson loads Gary the penguin into the hold r

He was ready for food and a swim when he arrived and Lisa has since operated on him twice, repairing the wound and realigning feathers in a complex procedure.  He is receiving intravenous antibiotics for the infection in his foot and, all in all, is getting the best possible care a penguin could hope for!

2014-12-11 Gary the tawaki at Wellington ZooUpdates are being posted on the Trust’s facebook page, if you’d like to track his progress.

Donations are invited to recoup the Trust’s cost for the care he received on the Coast and you can donate here.  Thank you so much for your help.