In late November, one of the staff at SEA LIFE Kelly Tarlton’s Aquarium discovered a weak kororā (little penguin) washed up on the shoreline of Devonport, exhausted and hungry. He contacted the Department of Conservation immediately for advice and the penguin was able to be transferred to the Auckland Zoo Vet hospital for treatment.

Our veterinary team provided a full assessment and thankfully, no injuries were found. The little penguin was found to be more than 50% underweight (at just 372 grams) as well as being fatigued and seriously anaemic. Later confirmed with blood tests, the anaemia was immediately obvious to our vet staff due to the almost white colour of the feet and the inside of its beak (which are usually pink).

Zoo veterinary nurse Celine says, "this is one of five penguins we’ve cared for this month in this condition. This has been observed in previous “La Nina” years when a combination of unsettled weather and warm ocean currents may have led to a disruption of the usual fish stocks or feeding areas.”

Our vet team created a warm, comfortable, and contained space for the young bird and started to tube-feed it with nutrient-rich fish slurry. After nine days of treatment the penguin has gained a good amount of weight, he was then able to transition into being hand-fed small entire fish. We’re pleased to say he currently weighs a much healthier 689 grams!

This kororā will remain at our vet hospital for another few days, before it will head to Waiheke Island's Native Bird Rescue, where he will stay until he is fit and ready for life in the wild.

If you come across a penguin that appears to be in distress or danger, please do not pick it up. Continue to observe the penguin from a distance and call our partners at the Department of Conservation on 0800 DOC HOT who will provide the right assistance and advice.