SANCCOB admits first Eastern Rockhopper penguin

SANCCOB admits first Eastern Rockhopper penguin

Extremely rare in South African Waters, an Eastern Rockhopper penguin (Eudyptes. Chrysocome filholi) which was admitted to our Cape St Francis centre on 26 February 2017, was flown to Cape Town on Thursday 30 March, courtesy of BidAir Cargo.

The penguin, which was in arrested moult, was underweight and in poor condition. After a full physical examination including blood samples, the bird was found to have a severe bacterial infection in need of treatment. It was also given supplements to assist in inducing moult.

According to Nicky Stander, SANCCOB’s Rehabilitation Manager, “While a moulting penguin is a natural and annual occurrence, this could have resulted in serious consequences if left untreated.”

“Shortly after admission, SANCCOB began discussions with the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) regarding the release of the bird. There is currently no legislation stating that Rockhopper penguins cannot be released into the wild, but previously, it has been considered best practice to keep the birds in captivity due to the high risk associated with disease transferral from South African penguin species and sub-Antarctic species,” said Stander.

The DEA supports the decision to release the Rockhopper with the proviso that all blood tests are clear of any infection or disease. The bird will spend a few days at our Table View Centre going through the preparations for release. This will include forced swimming sessions, good nutrition and veterinary checks.

The aim is to release the bird in the Southern Ocean en route to Marion Island. SANCCOB has been authorised to insert a tracking transponder into the penguin, to ascertain useful information if it is detected in the future.