Rare Antarctic penguin accidentally travels 1,900 miles… and ends up in New Zealand
- The Adèlie, nicknamed ‘Pingu’ by locals, was found near Christchurch on Wednesday night
- The penguin was fed and sent back to its home by the local Department of Conservation
- This is the third recorded Adèlie penguin to make it to New Zealand
An Adèlie penguin a long way from home has been released back to sea in the third documented visit of the species to New Zealand.
The juvenile male Adèlie, affectionately nicknamed Pingu by locals, was spotted on Birdlings Flat Beach near Christchurch on Wednesday night.
The Adèlie is native to the Antarctic coastline, and would have swum thousands of miles before reaching his unlikely destination.
(Photo credit Allanah Purdie) Pingu had travelled 1,900 miles from home when he ended up in Christchurch
The amazing journey of Pingu the Adèlie had him travel 1,900 miles from the coast of Antarctica to a beach near Christchurch
(Photo credit Allanah Purdie) The adorable little Pingu spent much of his free time in New Zealand enjoying the beach
(Photo credit Allanah Purdie) Adèlie penguins typically roam about before they reach breeding age
He was spotted by local Harry Singh, who stayed with the penguin as he ran around on the beach, flapping his wings and wiggling his tail – but not returning to the water.
New Zealand’s Department of Conservation senior ranger Anita Spencer said the agency worked with a rehab team to prepare the penguin for his return journey.
‘When he was picked up from the beach a couple of nights ago he was a bit underweight and exhausted,’ she told AAP.
Blood tests performed on Pingu showed that he was underweight and dehydrated. He has since been given fluids and fed via a feeding tube.
‘He’s been given some fish smoothies. He was looking good and ready to go back to sea.’
The DOC is aware of just two previous Adèlie sightings on the New Zealand mainland, the latest near Kaikoura in 1993.
‘I wouldn’t say that he was lost though,’ Ms Spencer said.
‘Juvenile penguins do roam. They don’t breed until they are three to six years of age. So he’s gone for a trip before making his way back to the colony.’
Ms Spencer said the visitor was showing signs of stress on Friday, which is to be expected given the un-Antarctic local temperature of 26°C.
After his fishy feed, the penguin was taken to a carefully chosen beach on the Banks Peninsula for his release.
The adorable little man is seen enjoying his long-haul holiday to New Zealand before his adoring fans
‘He’s hopefully heading south but there are no guarantees. It’s all up to him really,’ Ms Spencer said.
‘We picked a south-facing bay with not too many visitors and no dogs.
‘It started calling when he was back at the beach and close to the sea. It’s always great to see birds back into their natural habitat.’
‘He jumped across a couple of boulders, went down to the water’s edge, the waves came in and he dove in.’
‘They’re very vulnerable and the safest place for them is at sea.’