Arriving just three-weeks-ago from Native Bird Rescue - Waiheke Island with a severe wound to his flipper, this little penguin was in immediate need of veterinary assistance.

Our vet team provided him with some initial pain relief, fluids to rehydrate, antibiotics to combat infection and appropriate food as he was severely underweight. The injury to his flipper was so severe that it was only hanging on by a thread and had likely been fractured for several days. Because of the severity, the only viable treatment option was to amputate the affected flipper and once he was in a stable condition our vet team performed the amputation under anaesthesia.

We don’t know the exact cause of this injury, but a major trauma like this is likely caused by dogs attacking penguins on the beach, a predatory fish bite, or potentially a boat strike.

Although this injury means he cannot hunt and would not survive in the wild, we will be able to care for him for the rest of his life here at Auckland Zoo.

Thankfully the surgery went really well and our senior vet Dr An Pas says he’s “obviously, a tough little penguin”! Our vet team describe him as very friendly, enjoying hand-fed fish from our vet nurses twice a day. Since his surgery he has spent time practicing how to dive and swim with one flipper, in a deep pool in our back of house area. Just yesterday, he was introduced to his new home with our colony of little penguin rescues at The Coast.

Our bird team have named him Paku which is te reo for small or junior. After some initial exploring of his new surroundings, bird keeper Debs was able to feed the whole colony their breakfast of fish before they went on to enjoy a swim.

While a few of our rescue penguins have just one flipper, you might be able to spot him by looking out for his slightly lighter blue coloured feathers.