A yellow-eyed penguin has tussled with sharks three times in the last few years and lived to squawk the tale.

Vets at the Dunedin Wildlife Hospital yesterday operated on the feisty hoiho known as Crystal for the third time in three years.

Hospital vet Lisa Argilla said the first arrival was in 2017 when the facility was just a pop-up hospital.

The 1-year-old had taken on a shark, so staff fixed her and sent her back into the wild via Penguin Place on the Otago Peninsula.

Lisa Argilla with Crystal. Photo / Peter McIntosh
Lisa Argilla with Crystal. Photo / Peter McIntosh

A year later the opponent was of the same variety, but the injuries were more severe.

"She had a big wound which took quite a few surgeries to repair."

On her way out staff had a "little yarn" to the bird, advising it to "avoid sharks and stop being so sassy".

The flightless fighter clearly did not heed the guidance as last week the hospital again received a call about a familiar face getting in underwater scraps in the Catlins.

"The wound isn't as bad as she has had previously, so maybe she's just getting better at defending herself.

"I'd hate to see what the poor shark looks like... "

Dunedin Wildlife Hospital Trust chairman Steve Walker said it appeared the penguin remembered the facility.

"She made a beeline for the hospital enclosure she was assigned to last year and much to her disgust it was already occupied by a fellow injured yellow-eyed penguin."