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Helping Wayward Magellanic Penguins

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Thursday, April 14, 2011


Last Saturday I had the opportunity to meet five non-releasable Magellanic Penguins that had washed ashore in Brazil distressed and had found both a home and medical help at the Aquarium of the Pacific.

When I first saw the little penguins in the early morning they were huddled together in the holding pad of the Aquarium’s behind the scenes area resting soundly. As the sun started to shine into the pad, first one, then another penguin lifted their stubby little wings and flapped them in a manner that reminded me of an athlete warming up. They then plopped into the water and began to swim against the current of the water inflow of the pool. It looked like they were getting their morning exercise before breakfast. Soon one of the Aquarium’s aviculturalists, Karen, entered their pad with their morning herring and their attention turned to her and her offerings.

I must admit that I wasn’t prepared for how adorable they looked. To me their cuteness rivaled that of a baby otter. I enjoyed my time next to the pool watching them swim around the water and waddle along the deck. Every now and then one would swim my way and check me out. You could tell that these birds were rescued and treated by helpful humans as they were totally comfortable around us.

What were penguins that are normally found around the Falkland islands and the tip of South America doing so far north in Brazil? According to our curator of marine mammals and birds Dudley Wigdahl, “The locations of their food sources are changing perhaps due to climate change, and penguins are having to travel farther in search of food.” Hundreds of these birds have been found stranded in Brazil.

Personally I’m happy that we can provide some help for these penguins by giving them medical care and a home. Stay tuned for further updates on these wonderful critters.

Helping Wayward Magellanic Penguins
Penguin swimming in the pool of the holding pad.  | Hugh Ryono
Helping Wayward Magellanic Penguins
The holding pad in the Aquarium's behind the scenes area has been modified to be more accommodating to the needs of penguins.  | Hugh Ryono
Helping Wayward Magellanic Penguins
Penguins waking up and stretching their wings.  | Hugh Ryono

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Monday, April 18, 2011 04:21 AM

That’s a long travel for such little guys. They remind me of the penguins I once saw off of Phillip Island in Australia.  I think they were Fairy Penguins?

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