It's seems to have been a long day for these returning yellow-eyed penguins as they make their way home off the beach after fishing all day. They look gloriously chubby and so they should: this is holiday season for them with no parental duties or worrying about having to change feathers.
Meals on wheels have arrived and Mr and Mrs 116 are looking keen. Neither of them really need the top up now and she can easily make it through the rest of her moult without extra salmon, but as both these adults are quite elderly we feel we can support them a bit longer and make life easier for them. After all she is is penguin royalty and we are expecting more offspring next spring so that Diesel Dick and Sweetpea's legacy lives on. (They were the founders of one of our colony after they were rehabilitated successfully. They stuck around for many years and produced a total of 29 chicks, with Mrs 116 and her sister being the first ones).
Yellow-eyed penguins are gorgeous birds and their eyes are very striking. Here our precious Mrs 116 had her portrait taken some ways through the moult - we still reckon she is stunning, yes?
They are ALWAYS late! This is a yellow-eyed penguin pair where she always lays the last eggs for the season. That's ok though: she is super special as she is Diesel Dick and Sweetpea's daughter - in fact the first they raised way back in 1993 which makes her 23 years old. Her mate is also quite ancient: at least 23 years old as he was marked as an adults. They raised a chick - sorta, we had to help with it in the end. She came back to moult at the end of March weighing only a miserable 4.5kg so off to rehab she went. Pairs that moult together will stay together (on average) and so we went looking for her mate, and found him - also skinny but well into the moult. We put them together in the hospital and fed them up. Then it was time to put them back into the colony and they both ate so nicely in rehab, we thought we try feeding them near their nest site. It works - as you can see. Easy! The male has finished moulting but chooses to stick around because the one day he decided to go to sea another male kept his wife company - now we can't have that!
This is a special box, brand new and has a kind sponsor - and a yellow-eyed penguin found it for her moult. It is always exciting and rewarding to be able to let one of our sponsors know that their box has been chosen. When we see a penguin in a sponsored box we will take a photo and post it so that you know. From feedback it appears this picture has given much pleasure to the sponsor - and the penguin kinda liked it too!
We pride ourselves in our 95% release rate from our rehabilitation facility but we can't save everyone. This was a wee Rockhopper penguin that came to us very skinny and part way through the moult. He rallied really well and ate beautifully and we were very hopeful. Alas, after a week he started to throw up - we countered with smaller meals and some medicine, but the wee fella didn't make it. This sometimes happens: if a penguin has starved too much the internal organs are damaged sometimes beyond repair and although they seem to be getting better they die after about a week. He was such a pleasure to care for and we wanted to honour him and his life here because he was with us for a short time and we were happy to lessen his hunger for a while.