This is an African Penguin.
(photo courtesy of Wikipedia)
We're one week into this whole penguin thing and it's definitely on the upswing. In fact, I am ready to admit that I'm having a ton of fun! We are successfully handling the birds, and have settled comfortably into the routine of feed-tube-scrub-scrub-feed-tube-scrub. Scrub. I haven't gotten any more bites (if you don't count the one on my shoulder and the one on my arm, as they're both my own stupid fault.) And I've discovered a new favourite thing, which is spraying the birds down with the hose after every meal, to remove the oils from the fish they've just devoured. They love the hose, and lean forward into the spray, closing their eyes and tilting their heads back and flapping their flippers in (my imagined) ecstacy. Sometimes I do it randomly in the middle of the day for good reason at all, just because they are so darn cute.
SANCCOB is currently caring for under a hundred penguins, which is a good thing for a number of reasons. It means we're not being run ragged, and it means that the colonies of penguins on the coast and surrounding islands are healthy and that there have been no oil spills or dumps along the coast. In 2000, there was an oil spill of epic proportions off the coast of South Africa, when an oil tanker called The Treasure ran aground. During the days following this disaster, SANCCOB cleaned and cared for 16,000 oiled penguins, while another 1,100 chicks were cared for elsewhere. In total, an estimated 40,000 birds were moved from the contaminated area, oiled or not, and saved from indisputable suffering and death.
It's absolutely boggling.
It's also inspiring, and is one more reason I bounce out of bed early every morning, totally thrilled to be doing this work.