Vet pinguïnkuiken brengt goed nieuws voor de toeristische sector van Dunedinmaart 26, 2020
Blue Penguins Pukekura, on the Otago Peninsula, are proud of this 1520g whopper.
New Zealand’s beleaguered tourism industry has found a new hero: a hefty penguin.
The overweight little blue penguin is a bright spark for Dunedin’s tourism sector as it struggles with restrictions brought on by the coronavirus pandemic.
The unnamed 6-week old chick weighs in at an impressive 1520 grams and is the “biggest fluffster this breeding season”, Blue Penguins Pukekura’s Sophie Barker said.
The average weight for a chick that age is 1200g, while adults weigh about 1 kilogram (chicks are larger as they need more fat to grow their feathers and need to be a good weight to fledge, learn to find food for themselves and survive).
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It was unknown if it was the fattest penguin chick ever found at the Otago Peninsula-based colony, but it was certainly the story people need to read, she said.
“This is us wanting to share the joy … we really need some happy news.
“It is lovely to hear the penguins are doing well because they have been in plight for such a long time.”
Little blue penguins are the world’s smallest penguin species. The population is declining and the birds are classed as at risk by the Department of Conservation.
Many colonies are in decline due to predation by introduced predators including cats, dogs and ferrets. The penguins are also at risk of entanglement in set nets while out at sea.
Barker said the penguins had responded well to predator control and provision of nest boxes to provide safe nesting sites, with populations around Wellington Harbour, Banks Peninsula and the Oamaru Blue Penguin Colony increasing.
The population at Blue Penguins Pukekura had their own specialist penguin scientist to care for them, which was supported by the tourism dollar.
Barker said news of the fat chick was welcome as people appreciated a break from anything coronavirus-related, “particularly in the tourism sector”.
“It has been devastating.”
The Pukekura Trust, which was the country’s first Private charitable conservation trust, also runs other peninsula -based attractions the Royal Albatross Centre, Blue Penguins Pukekura, and Fort Taiaroa – were offering half-price deals this weekend as it was Otago Anniversary on Monday.
All of the trust’s managed attractions including Glenfalloch and Fletcher House, remained open.
Each tour to see albatross had been limited to 10 people, while only 50 were allowed on the penguin platform at any time “so people have plenty of personal space”.
“Penguin therapy is what people need right now.”
We salute you big fluffster.
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Bells have been rung around Dunedin to welcome the arrival of the first royal albatross back to the city for the 2018-19 breeding season. (Video first published in Sept 2018)