The Department of Conservation (DOC) is leaving Kapiti’s latest visitor- the young emperor penguin- to its own devices while keeping a close eye on it.
The 1 metre tall Antarctic emperor, which has been residing on Peka Peka beach since Monday, has been venturing into the sea at night to feed and moving to different locations on the beach.
Penguin experts have checked the bird and confirm that it is very healthy and in very good condition.
“We keep our interference with wild animals to an absolute minimum, and this emperor penguin is no exception,” says DOC biodiversity spokesperson Peter Simpson.
The emperor penguin on Peka Peka beach on the Kapiti Coast
The bird is exhibiting normal penguin behaviour but as a precaution DOC is arranging to have it looked at by a specialist vet as well as having rangers monitoring it regularly. Kapiti residents are also keeping watchful eyes on its progress.
“The local community are doing a fantastic job keeping their dogs well away, not getting too close, and informing the Department about their concerns”, Mr Simpson added
Returning the penguin to Antarctica is not feasible because there is no transport there in the winter and it is currently dark 24 hours of the day. Penguin experts also advise that large birds can suffer trauma if transported long distances.
“DOC is not planning to move the penguin. There is no reason to shift a healthy animal to an artificial environment or return it to the sea. It appears to be feeding, will drink sea water, and when the penguin wants to swim it will take to the water itself. We are letting nature take its course.” says Mr Simpson.
DOC does not how long it will stay around for, but will continue to track its movements and check its condition.
If members of the public see this emperor penguin at another beach or to report unusual or injured marine animals contact the DOC HOTline: 0800 362 468.