Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Meet the Beaks

This is Rocky.

Rocky is an originally-named Rockhopper Penguin. Rockhoppers are not native to South Africa; they are found in the sub-Antarctic Pacific and Indian Oceans. He was picked up somewhere along the coast, and the theory is that Rockhoppers are really tame, and because of that, someone on a boat, maybe a cargo ship, picked him up as a "pet", and then realized they couldn't just keep him, and left him here.

So now he's at SANCCOB. He can't go back to where he's from, because he may have acquired disease or parasites that could infect the population at his colony, and anyway, he's having a bit of trouble with his feathers -- he started moulting and they don't want to grow back. We hope he'll eventually find a home at the Two Oceans Aquarium in Cape Town, where they already have a thriving population of Rockhoppers. Until then, he keeps us entertained at SANCCOB with his hopping, beak nibbles, and constant jailbreaks.

By the way, he is the only penguin at SANCCOB that you can handle like this without getting permanent scars.

This is Fluffy.

He's been around SANCCOB for a long time. He is truly an arrested moulter -- his waterproof swimming feathers, for some reason, simply will not grow back. In the wild, he wouldn't be able to swim for any length of time, and he would probably starve. He's quite the Romeo around home pen, finding a new mate every season, apparently, while most African Penguins are strictly monogomous.

This is Penguin AP125.

You can't see it, but he has a wicked wound on his belly from where a seal tried to rip the fish out of his guts, like a bag of potato chips. It was the size of my hand when we arrived, and the skin and feathers were completely torn off, right down to the muscle. We've been applying a medicated cream to it every day, and it's healing well. Now, though, he's in moult, so there are feathers everywhere. Penguins in moult gorge themselves at the start of moult and then don't eat during the entire moulting process, as they obviously can't swim, so feedings lately have been interesting.

This is Edgar.

You can't tell from this side, but Edgar is missing one eye and his beak is crossed. He has trouble feeding because of this, so we keep him in Home Pen, where he gets his daily ration of fish and can swim in safety. Sometimes I see him in the corner, staring at the wall with his good eye. I think he's lost.

This is Penguin AP 280.

He arrived at SANCCOB with an injured foot. It kept flipping over and he was trying to walk on the top of his foot, which kept getting torn on the mats. The skin and muscle wouldn't heal, and he couldn't walk properly. A local vet did the amputation for us, and after two days in a bandage, 280 was back to his normal, aggressive self -- swimming like normal and learning to walk on his new stump, like a pirate. Captain Jack Penguin, anyone?


C and J said...

I love it!! They're so cute! You're going to miss all of them!

Chelle said...

I love all your fine feathered friends. I feel a bit bad for Edgar though - getting lost in the corner and all.

wompcat said...

Thank you for such sweet stories of those little guys. I love penguins. Now I want to go visit the ones across the street at the aquarium. Do you miss them? Hope you're having fun!!!