Penguin drowns in bucket during escape attempt

March 25, 2009

Auckland is a couple of penguins short of a zoo after a series of mysterious deaths, the New Zealand Herald reports.

Four of the zoo’s six-strong colony of Little (Blue) penguins have died of a “mysterious ailment.” Symptoms included an unusually oily coat, which can (somewhat counterintuitively) lead to waterlogging and subsequent hypothermia. The convalescent sphenisciformes were hand-fed and washed daily to encourage a return to a maritime existence, but, despite the efforts of their keepers, all passed beyond the veil.

A fifth penguin staged a daring escape from an emergency enclosure, but went straight to Davy Jones’ Locker, having fallen headlong into a bucket of water.

“It was just one of those things you wouldn’t think about in advance – a penguin drowning,” said the zoo’s veterinarian John Potter.

Auckland Zoo hopes to restock with rescue penguins whose injuries compromise their ability to feed in the wild.