The results are in and we can confirm that our delightful little penguin (koror­ā) patient is a boy. Ōhope is thriving, eating for himself, learning to swim, and even making friends.

A second little penguin was found near Ōhope Beach with a badly broken flipper, most likely from a dog bite. Desmond, as he has been named, was sent to our talented vet team, but unfortunately the flipper was far too damaged to be saved.

Our one-flippered friend Desmond is doing really well, and adjusting to life a little off-balance. Ōhope and Desmond have become fast friends in the Vet Hospital, and veterinary nurse Celine Campana says they’ve taught each other a thing or two.

As Ōhope was bought to the Zoo as a young rescue chick, he didn’t have a great understanding of penguin life. Desmond has taught Ōhope ‘how to penguin’, and Ōhope’s confidence with our vet team is slowly teaching Desmond to trust humans.

These two adorable little penguins are nearly ready to meet their new Zoo family in our Te Wao Nui marine habitat The Coast. Their conditions have improved dramatically, meaning they have just made the move from our Vet Hospital to an off-display enclosure where they can continue to improve under the care of our bird keepers.

Before they move into their Te Wao Nui home they first need to become fully waterproof by building up the oils in their feathers, and Ōhope still needs some encouragement to preen, a skill which is usually learnt off other penguins. Little penguins rub their beaks over the preen oil gland near the tail to spread oil throughout their feathers, which helps them become waterproof. If they don’t become fully waterproof there is a possibility they will become waterlogged and catch a cold.

Although our penguin friends have learnt a lot off each other there is still a way to go. Celine and the birds team are keeping a close eye on the boys, especially after swim-time, and using heat lamps to help them dry off.


Little penguin patients Ohope and Desmond take a swim!

How can you help Aotearoa’s little penguins?

Native to New Zealand, little penguins are in need of help, with one of their main threats being dogs. If you’re a dog-owner you can play an important role in helping increase our little penguin population, by keeping your dog away from little penguin nests, and on leashes in known penguin areas.

You can also help us with the work we do caring for animals in need like Ōhope and Desmond, by visiting us or donating to the Auckland Zoo Conservation Fund.