Penguin chick's no mean feat
28 Jan 2009
A rare New Zealand penguin chick is happily back in the wild after turning up in the heart of Christchurch city- more than 10 kilometres from his coastal home.
The fledgling, which is only about 25cm tall and weighs less than a kilo, is known as a white-flippered penguin, one of a sub species of ''little blues'' the smallest penguins in the world and found exclusively in North Canterbury.
The plucky chick was found near the Antigua Boatsheds, on Christchurch's Avon River, looking lost - hardly surprising since the central city boatsheds are a very long swim upriver from the penguin's coastal habitat.
A concerned citizen spotted the chick and was worried local ducks might take exception to the seafaring visitor.
Police held the chick in 'protective custody' until Department of Conservation representatives were able to transport it back to the wild.
DOC ranger Anita Spencer said the penguin was perky, in good condition and jumping around in the box during his ride back to the coast.
The chick's ''happy feet'' impressions continued until it was released at Kaitorete Spit, Birdlings Flat.
Spencer said that while penguin chicks did turn up in rivers and beaches at this time of the year it was rare for them to venture so far and she had never seen one in Christchurch city.
"It's most likely gone upriver chasing fish and gone off-track at some point," she said.
The chick had probably only recently left its burrow for the first time- having spent the usual 60 day post-hatching period in the safety of its birthplace.
Spencer said the discovery was a reminder that people needed to be aware of running into penguins near a river or at the beach.
At this time of the year even adult penguins spent time on the beach as they were changing feathers, she said.
Bird conservation in New Zealand
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