On Wednesday, an Adélie penguin washed up on the coast of New Zealand, 2,000 miles from its native home, Antarctica.
“The rare visitor was spotted by resident Harry Singh, just south of Christchurch in Birdlings Flat on the southern island. A video captured by Singh shows the penguin wandering around on the beach,” reported NBC News.
“I did not notice any physical injury, but it was tired and hungry,” Singh, who waited with the penguin with his wife for nearly four hours, before Christchurch Penguins Rehabilitation staff came to help, told the outlet.
Locals have since named the penguin, “Pingu.”
“Thomas Stracke of Christchurch Penguin Rehabilitation, arrived at the scene with a veterinarian, according to the news website Stuff,” NBC News continued. “He told the site that the penguin was malnourished and severely dehydrated. The team had given Pingu some ‘fish smoothies’ before it was released back to the sea Friday morning, he added.”
“When he was picked up from the beach a couple of nights ago he was a bit underweight and exhausted,” Anita Spencer, senior ranger at the Department of Conservation, told the Australian Associated Press.
“I wouldn’t say that he was lost though,” she continued. “Juvenile penguins do roam. They don’t breed until they are three to six years of age. So he’s gone for a trip before making his way back to the colony.”
“He’s hopefully heading south but there are no guarantees. It’s all up to him really,” Spencer said. “We picked a south-facing bay with not too many visitors and no dogs.”
“It started calling when he was back at the beach and close to the sea. It’s always great to see birds back into their natural habitat,” she added. “He jumped across a couple of boulders, went down to the water’s edge, the waves came in and he dove in.”
‘They’re very vulnerable and the safest place for them is at sea,” Spencer noted.
“They are extraordinarily like children, these little people of the Antarctic world, either like children or like old men, full of their own importance,” wrote a survivor of Robert Falcon Scott’s British Antarctic Expedition of 1910 after encountering Adélie penguins.
“Adelie penguins are the classic black-and-white tuxedoed penguins of Antarctica. They are abundant in the Ross Sea sector of Antarctica, but are very rare vagrants to mainland New Zealand, with just two records. The world population is estimated at 10,000,000 birds, of which about 34% live in the Ross Sea sector,” explained a digital encyclopedia of New Zealand Birds. “Adult Adelie penguins are readily recognized by their diagnostic white eye-ring and absence of other facial ornamentation, but the eye-ring can be absent in the white-chinned juveniles, which look quite different to the much photographed adults.”
“The world population of Adelie penguins is estimated at 3.79 million pairs, around 34% of which live in the Ross Dependency south of New Zealand,” the site adds, noting that “The two New Zealand records were an adult corpse found north of the Flaxbourne River mouth, Marlborough (December 1962), and a live bird at Kaikoura in January 1993.”