When you spend every day, all day, with penguins you get to know them pretty well.
That’s why Rosalie releases her recovered yellow-eyed penguin chicks on separate beaches. When she used to let them go on the same beach, they would huddle together and never venture into the water for a feed when they got hungry. For 48 hours she leaves them alone, otherwise they might expect a handout instead of fending for themselves. These recovered chicks survive better in the long run if they are given some tough love when they are returned to the wild.
Rosalie spends her days with yellow-eyed and little blue penguins at the Katiki Point Wildlife Sanctuary where she rehabilitates sick and injured penguins. Sometimes other penguin stragglers show up on her beaches needing help. In one of the recovery pens a moulting erect-crested penguin keeps company with two yellow-eyed penguins. The erect-crested penguin was far from home–these penguins live and breed on the Subantarctic Islands more than 680 kilometres (424 miles) away from Katiki Point. When he is strong enough after moulting, Rosalie will release him near the ocean so he can hopefully find his way home.
Today she released six yellow-eyed penguins that had recovered and gained enough weight to head back to sea, but she still has 31 penguins under her care at the sanctuary. It has been a tough year for yellow-eyed penguins.
So what’s in the bag? That’s a recovered yellow-eyed penguin chick about to be released.