Pop-up penguin hospital closing after summer success

By Angela Woods

A penguin with an injured foot at the pop-up hospital. Photo/Supplied
A penguin with an injured foot at the pop-up hospital. Photo/Supplied

A pop-up penguin hospital in Dunedin is closing today after saving 34 birds during the summer.

The temporary hospital was set up at Otago Polytechnic and funded by the Yellow-eyed Penguin Trust so the birds could be treated in the region.

Sue Murray, manager of the trust, said it was better for the birds to go to a local treatment facility.

"We normally have to send injured yellow-eyed penguins to the North Island ... by having immediate treatment, we've been able to save more birds."

Wildlife vet Lisa Argilla treated 34 injured yellow-eyed penguins in the nine weeks the facility was open.

Argilla planned to stay on for the next few days to care for remaining birds, but newly injured penguins would have to treated by local vets or flown north.

"I truly believe we've made a real difference to the success of care this season," Argilla said.

A penguin being freed after hospital treatment and rehab. Photo/Supplied
A penguin being freed after hospital treatment and rehab. Photo/Supplied

Francesca Brown, programme leader at the Otago Polytechnic School of Nursing, said it was an honour to be involved with the project.

"It's great these birds could be treated locally, and we're so pleased that Lisa and her team of volunteers have done so well," Brown said.

There are about 250 breeding pairs of yellow-eyed penguins in the South Island.

The number of birds has risen from an estimated 150 pairs in 1991, but the species remains endangered.

The yellow-eyed penguin also lives on Stewart Island and a number of sub-Antarctic islands, but is among one of the rarest species of penguin.

- NZ Herald

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