70 years of helping people to care for our ocean

The flying Penguins Amber and Blush “flew” to Gqeberha yesterday

By : Ann Kunz

We are very grateful to The Bateleurs (Volunteers Flying for the Environment) and especially to pilot Claude Parnell who offered to fly our two VIP’s (Very Important Penguins) from KZN to SANCCOB Gqeberha where they will begin the final leg of their rehabilitation programme.

Both Amber and Blush stranded on KZN beaches within a week of each other in June 2021.  Besides being dehydrated and undernourished, Blush presented with injuries to his feet and was barely able to move. Amber also had severe cuts to both her feet.

They were dewormed, received fluids, treated with antibiotics, and propped up with towels under infra-red lamps in a quiet corner of the clinic as part of their initial treatment plan.  They regained their strength slowly but surely and by the time they left the hospital, they were eating 10 sardines a day and had gained over a kilogram each.  

Amber and Blush developed a very strong bond whilst they were in the hospital facility as they were with each other all day every day and even slept on each other’s shoulders.  This special bond continued when they were introduced to the older penguins in the uShaka Sea World African Penguin colony.  Although they integrated quite well with the rest of the penguins even picking up enough social skills to claim their spots in the sun, and preferred shelter, they were never far apart.

In order to survive, it is essential that rehabilitated penguins form close relationships with a group of at least 10 penguins of similar age prior to release. SANNCOB provides this opportunity as they keep penguins ready for release together in groups for a week or longer before releasing them.

“It’s a bittersweet moment seeing them been loaded onto their VIP plane because we have enjoyed rehabbing and watching these two special birds go from strength to strength. They have left footprints on our hearts. Until then, we hope they continue making good progress and wish them well “said Lead Animal Behaviourist, Kelly de Klerk

The Bateleurs brought a young releasable sea turtle, named Donny back with them on their return trip from PE.   Donny will be released in a collaborative release project with the Two Oceans Aquarium in Cape Town,  Bayworld Oceanarium in Gqeberha and the East London Aquarium.  

 But that is a story for another day………………..