The yellow-eyed penguin (hoiho) is not only fighting with nature to survive the Corona virus pandemic. Their nursery at Penguin Place is in danger of running out of money due to the Corona virus pandemic.
Hoiho or yellow-eyed penguin is one of the most endangered penguin species in the world. Now there are only about 4,000 to 5,000 adult hoihos left in the wild.
Hoiho are the largest penguin species that live and breed on mainland New Zealand. But in recent decades, the population has decreased.
As a consequence, the New Zealand government includes the aquatic animal species of this bird in the list of endangered animals nationally.
A group of veterinarians working at The Wildlife Hospital in Dunedin City, New Zealand is working to keep the penguins alive. These veterinarians have been giving penguins exclusive care since the 1990s.
Most of these penguins are hospitalized for a variety of reasons. Among them, hunger, injury, and disease.
Prior to the opening of the hospital in 2018, sick or injured Hoiho had to endure a stressful journey from the South Island to the North Island for treatment.
Hospital care on the North Island of New Zealand has a higher success rate.
The doctors and hospital staff were well aware of the risks of caring for penguins. Can be scuffed or stained with dirt.
“These animals want to bite us, they want to slap us, shit all over us, but we love them,” said Wildlife Hospital founder Doctor Lisa Argilla, pointing out a number of scars that have appeared in 13 years of treating yellow-eyed penguins.
After undergoing treatment at the hospital, the penguins continue their recovery at Penguin Place. In that place the penguins are rehabilitated and gain weight before being released into the wild.
About 95% of the hoiho penguins brought to the facility survive to be released back into the wild.
Compare that high percentage with the small number of natural breeding products of only 265 on the South Island, according to 2019 estimates.
The positive results of the veterinarians’ work were clear.
“If Penguin Place wasn’t here, I could almost guarantee that their population would go extinct,” said Jason van Zanten, conservation manager at Penguin Place.
However, like any other endangered species, the fate of Penguin Place is increasingly under threat. This facility is fully monetized from visitors. The Covid-19 pandemic is hitting Penguin Place very badly.
In a few months, the penguin rehab center will run out of funds to feed and care for their patients.
Conservation efforts in New Zealand have long been correlated with tourism.
For decades, people have flocked to the coastline of the Otago Peninsula, its towering headlands and hidden bays. The tourists hoped to catch a glimpse of sea lions, seals and penguins.
And even though overseas visitors and the income from tourism that supports conservation programs have not returned, these people who save wildlife remain. Even though they were bitten and slapped by the penguin’s wings, they were determined to take care of these animals one by one.
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(fem / ddn)