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THE African penguin who was being cared for by uShaka Sea World has been declared ready for release. Groot, found stranded on Scottburgh main beach towards the end of December last year, joined another penguin, Indigo who was found stranded on Zinkwazi Beach, on a flight to SANCCOB (South African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds).
The penguins were flown from Virginia Airport on a Bateleurs plane to Port Elizabeth recently. Ann Kunz of the South African Association for Marine Biological Research (SAAMBR) said SANCCOB staff were at the airport to receive the duo and admit them into the care of staff in preparation for final release.
“This final pre-release period is dedicated to ensuring that they are socially bonded within a group of penguins prior to their release. Penguins are social birds and rely heavily on one another for their survival. Indigo was admitted to uShaka Sea World on 11 September 2017 after being found stranded at Zinkwazi beach on the KZN north coast. She had a puncture wound to her chest and an open wound on her left pectoral. At only four months old this little penguin clearly had a bad start in life. Thankfully, her recovery went smoothly and after a couple of months in the hospital facility, she joined the uShaka Sea World penguin colony where she regained her muscle strength and fitness.
“Groot arrived at uShaka Sea World in January this year after being stranded on a beach in Scottburgh on the south coast. He too had an injury to his pectoral but unlike Indigo, who was otherwise well, he was severely dehydrated and undernourished.
Staff watched over him anxiously for the first 10 days as he made slow and unsteady progress. Thankfully from the 11th day onwards he seemed to wake up with a ferocious appetite and his journey back to health began,” she explained.
Kunz said both penguins are in good hands at SANCCOB.