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Chino the Penguin

 uSh chino penguin article v1

Pictured above: uShaka Marine World's animal behaviourist, Kelly de Klerk with Chino.

uShaka Sea World'S Extreme Survivor

Penguins are notoriously clumsy on land, as they waddle along upright with their flippers held away from their bodies. Chino, the latest penguin resident to join the uShaka Sea World African Penguin (Spheniscusdemersus) colony, not only waddles but waddles with a little limp.

Stranded on the beach at Kosi Bay in November last year, she was found virtually motionless, suffering from heat stroke and a badly damaged leg. Chino was taken to uShaka Sea World, where veterinarian Dr Francois Lampen & animal care staff started her rehabilitation.

Chino was in serious trouble, not only because she was from her natural home range, suffering heat stroke and an injured leg, but because she was in the middle of a moult.

Penguins need to remain on land throughout their moult, as they are not waterproof during this time. What led 18 month old Chino to enter the water mid moult and head off in the wrong direction, remains a mystery. Thankfully, she found herself in safe, caring and capable hands amongst the staff at uShaka Sea World.

Weighing just less than 3kg, she was given rehydration fluids, started on a course of antibiotics and left to rest in a quiet corner for the night. The first 24 hours were nerve wracking for the staff as they monitored her closely to see if she had enough strength to survive the night – and survive she did! Her appetite returned and she started to eating upwards of 12 pilchards a day, she gained weight, completed her moult and combated the infection which had set in the break in her left leg.

Thankfully, within a few weeks of arriving at uShaka Sea World, she was able to stand unaided and take a few steps! She loved spending time in the rehabilitation pools, swimming, diving while exercising her leg. After six weeks in hospital, she was declared strong enough to join the resident penguin colony. Chino will still need to wear her bandage for a while longer as she adjusts to her new way of waddling.

She was immediately accepted by the penguins in the colony and rumour has it that Chino has already found a special friend. She will remain a permanent resident in the penguin colony at uShaka Sea World, as her condition would compromise her ability to survive on her own.

The African Penguin (Spheniscusdemersus), endemic to the Southern African coast, has suffered a 97% decline in population figures over the past century and is currently classified as Endangered.

You can help save the African Penguin from extinction by ensuring you place your litter in bins, recycling whenever possible, and purchasing sustainably harvested fish.

Look for a white tick on blue MSC labels, when you purchase frozen fish from your local supermarkets. This means that they have been harvested sustainably. Healthy Oceans are good for penguins as well as people.

For more info contact Ann Kunz on ann@saambr.org.za or alternately 083 392 4147.