A disoriented little blue penguin which was taken to safety after being found wandering along the road in suburban Auckland is recovering well at a bird rescue centre.
The penguin was rescued by two 21-year-old two Auckland women, Mari Taylor and Jess Harris, who were on their way home at 4am on Sunday after a night on the town.
They found it on Shore Rd, Remuera, a few hundred metres from Hobson Bay - a tidal estuary blocked off from the Hauraki Gulf by a major arterial road and a raised rail line across the bay. How the penguin made it to land remains a mystery.
"It would have been hit by a car if we didn't pick it up. I couldn't believe it,'' Ms Taylor said.
The penguin was taken to the NZ Bird Rescue centre in Green Bay yesterday. The centre's founder, Lyn MacDonald, said the bird was "terribly skinny'' but otherwise unhurt.
About 30 penguins were dropped at the centre annually, but it was the first from Remuera.
Ms MacDonald said today that the penguin had been doing well under her care.
On SPCA advice the penguin's rescuers had fed the bird a bowl of mushed up sardines, however "unfortunately sardines don't cut the mustard,'' Ms MacDonald said. Penguins weren't prone to eating food they hadn't caught so, it was being fed a critical care diet through a tube.
When the penguin's strength is up he would be placed in an enclosure with a female penguin recovering from sun bleaching, Ms MacDonald said.
However, she doubted any romance would blossom. "They're both from different coasts so they won't be together forever.''
Neither penguin had, or likely would, be named, Ms MacDonald said. "We deal with 5000 birds a year, can you imagine naming them all.''
A vet would check the male penguin tomorrow, she said.