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A 10-month old Emperor Penguin is making headlines after it suddenly showed up on Monday, June 20th on the shores of New Zealand some 2,000 miles away from its natural habitat in the Antarctica. The 32-inch tuxedo bird was spotted just as it was trying to waddle out of the waters at the Peka Peka beach by local resident Christine Wilton, who happened to be walking with her dog.
Experts believe that this intrepid explorer was probably in search for squid and krill amidst the frozen Antarctica floes when it lost its way, and began to drift. Since Emperor penguins travel at a maximum speed of just 15km an hour and require to rest in between, they estimate that this little one has been floating in the ocean for at least a month now, and has come ashore to get some rest.
While concerned experts had initially decided to just observe it, hoping that it would soon head back to the ocean.
That's because it was not possible for them to physically return it to the Antarctica for a number of reasons. When penguins travel through warm waters they often pick up diseases and by returning this one to its flock, the scientists may end up placing all of them in danger. Also, given that the South Pole gets no sunlight during this time of the year, flying there could be tricky and dangerous.
However, as the week progressed, the bird, which had started to ingest wet sand mistaking it for snow and even small sticks and stones, began to look increasingly lethargic, leaving the officials with no choice but to rescue him.
On Friday, three experts lifted the stranded penguin from the beach, placed it into a tub of ice and transported it to Wellington Zoo. Here the veterinarians plan to place it on an intravenous drip and hopefully nurse it to back to health, so it can be released in the wild. If they are unable to, they will have to find a place that will be able to accommodate it, which could be a problem, since there are no places in New Zealand that have the capability of housing an Emperor penguin long-term.
This is not the first time a vagrant penguin has been found far from its home. In the past, these plucky birds have mistakenly journeyed to The Falklands and the South Sandwich Island in the South Atlantic, the Heard Island that lies in the middle of the Southern Ocean and now, New Zealand. However, Emperor Penguins are known to be very resilient and possess a strong instinct for survival - We have a feeling this one will be no different and be able to find its way home soon.
Resources: telegraph.co.uk, abcnews.go.com, dailymail.co.uk