Opoho School/Helping Hands

Rosalie is feeding one of her recovering penguins. He loves his fish!
Rosalie is feeding one of her recovering yellow-eyed penguins. He loves his fish!

There are many different ways that people can give a helping hand.

Rosalie helps sick and injured penguins at Katiki Point. She lives next to an old lighthouse near a penguin colony there and she keeps the penguins in pens beneath the lighthouse where she can keep an eye on them. She gives them medicine if they are sick, and calls in an animal doctor if they are injured. While they are getting better, she feeds them lots of fish so that when they are released they are strong and healthy.

If you have any questions about how Rosalie helps the penguins, (like “What kind of penguins does Rosalie help?”) write in the box below and click on the “submit a comment” button.

Be sure to tell me who you are by putting your name at the end. I will answer you the next day.

Jill


40 thoughts on “Opoho School/Helping Hands

  1. Hi Jill
    We have got some questions for you.
    What does it look like in the hospital?
    Why is it just for penguins? (Hannah)

    Were any penguins injured yesterday? (Linus)

    I want to see more photos of penguins please. (Laura)

    What do they look like, because I like penguins, penguins are cute and fluffy and I like fluffy stuff. Can you send me some photos? (Eloisa)

    Do you have any baby penguins? (Irene)

    Can you send us some more photos please? (Christian)

    How do the penguins get sick? (Islay)

    How do the penguins die? (Kyoka)

    How many penguins have died? (Linus)

    How does the penguin hospital work? (Melicen)

    What does the penguin hospital look like? (Islay)

    How many penguins have been sick? (Islay)

    Please will you take some photos of the injured penguins for me. (Edie)

    We are looking forward to getting your email back

    Thank you Jill
    From Room 8 Opoho kids/children

    P.S We love penguins

    1. Wow! You asked such wonderful questions and I am so glad that you love penguins.

      Irene, Eloisa, Islay and Christian: Right now there aren’t any baby penguins because they have all grown up and left the nest. Unlike humans, penguins all have babies at the same time every year. So in September there will be eggs on their nests and at the start of November they will begin to hatch and we will see baby penguin chicks. I can’t wait!

      What does the hospital look like? The penguins are kept in pens next to Rosalie’s house and around the fenced yard of the lighthouse next door. I will post photos soon for you to see of the pens and the lighthouse. If you would like to see photos of chicks from Katiki Point and more about what the hospital looks like, look at Rosalie’s website (she’s the penguin hospital lady): http://www.penguins.org.nz/

      Islay, Kyoka, Hannah and Linus: The penguin hospital is really just for penguins, mostly yellow-eyed and little blue penguins that live near Rosalie’s house. She sometimes finds other kinds of penguins from very far away. Last month, there was an erect crested penguin at the hospital from the Bounty Islands — that’s 680 kilometres away! You can see a picture of him here: https://penguinhospital.wordpress.com/2009/04/02/what-do-yellow-eyed-penguins-like/

      Penguins may get cuts anywhere on their bodies and sometimes they break bones. We don’t always know how they were injured. Maybe a seal tried to take a bite, or they got tangled in a net, or the sea was rough when they came to shore and they got thrown against the rocks. Or they might get bitten by a dog (that’s why you should never walk your dog near a penguin colony) or a feral (wild) cat.

      Sometimes penguins cannot find enough fish to eat and when they become weak from being hungry it is harder for them to fight off parasites or infections. Just like if you don’t eat a good diet with lots of fruits and vegetables, you might get sick easier. Sometimes penguins get a throat infection and cannot swallow their food; just like it is hard for us to eat when we have a really sore throat. Then they need medicine to fix the throat before they can eat.

      Sometimes penguins do die, or their injuries are so great they cannot recover. In that case, a vet will euthanise the penguin. It makes us very sad when that happens. But most of the penguins get well and it is very satisfying to bring them back to their beach when they are strong and healthy again.

      Edie, Melican, and Linus: Because there are not very many yellow-eyed penguins in the world, Rosalie keeps very good records of how many penguins she has in hospital, what kind of medicine they are getting, why they are in hospital, and how much they weigh when they leave. A fat penguin is a healthy penguin so we like them to be a good weight. Last week, Rosalie had 38 penguins in hospital, but sometimes she only has one or two. I will put a photograph of an injured penguin on the website for you to see soon.

      Jill

    1. hi Linus,

      Good question! Penguins look like animals, in fact the shape of their bodies makes them kind of look like seals, but they are BIRDS! So they have feathers and lay eggs. Over a very very long time penguins lost their ability to fly in the air, and their wings changed to become more like seal flippers. Take a look at this BBC video, it’s a little movie about how penguins swim underwater:

      http://fliiby.com/file/131971/ygp9ikn1uz.html

      These are Snares-crested penguins, but all penguins swim the same way. It almost looks like they are flying under the water.

      Because they are not fish with gills (gills are special lungs for fish so they can breathe under water) they have to take breaths of air when they swim (like you and me). When they jump out of the water like in the film, they also take a big breath so they can keep on swimming.

      It’s cool that you saw yellow-eyed penguins at Curio Bay.

      Jill

  2. Hello Jill

    We have some more questions and stories for you.

    Thank you for the video. We really liked it.

    How do you save penguins who have a broken leg? (Anna)

    How the penguins walk to the hospital if they have a broken leg? (Eloisa)

    Thank you for answering my questions. I have seen nesting boxes. In the video when the seal came I thought that it might eat the penguins but they were too fast. (Edie)

    Can you send us another video. I have seen a baby penguin before. I would like to see more photos of baby penguins. (Islay)

    Why do the penguins jump up onto land? (Laura)

    Hi my name is Hiba and when I was five I went to see the penguins with my family.

    How do the penguins swallow the medicine. I have seen a blue penguin before when I was in Nelson. It was cute. (Melicen)

    How do they swallow the medicine if they have a sore throat? Do you carry the penguins if they have a broken leg? How do they walk if their leg is broken? (Islay)

    How do the penguins swim if they have a sore leg or a cut? I haven’t seen a penguin before. (Hannah)

    Please can we come to see the penguins. I really love penguins. (Irene)

    Thank you

    From Room 8

  3. Hannah, Anna, Eloisa: The sick and injured penguins don’t have to walk to the hospital because Rosalie, the woman that runs the hospital, visits the colony every two or three days looking for penguins in trouble. Sometimes the birds (who are naturally shy) wait on the path for her if they are injured, almost like they know she will be able to help them.

    If their foot is injured, they will have trouble walking and swimming and if they cannot swim, they will lose weight. Rosalie can tell if they look too thin and when she brings them into the hospital (she puts them in a bag and carries them there) she will look them over to see if they have an injury that is preventing them from being able to eat.

    Melicen, Islay: If you look at this page of the blog,

    https://penguinhospital.wordpress.com/2009/03/25/a-good-egg/

    you can see how Rosalie is feeding a penguin. This is also how she gives them medicine. If you have ever had to give a cat medicine, you know that you have to wrap it up in a towel so it won’t get scared and scratch you. The same goes for penguins. Rosalie wraps them up in a bag so they feel more secure and if they struggle, they won’t hurt her or themselves.

    Edie and Laura: I was glad the seal didn’t get the penguins in that video also! But some seals do eat penguins.

    To jump out of the water on to the land, the penguins use their flippers and feet. You can kind of do this yourself in a swimming pool, but you won’t be able to jump on to the side of the pool because you don’t have flippers and the right body shape. You will be able to jump up in the water without pushing off the bottom by bringing you legs and arms together quickly. On a beach, the penguins let the waves carry them in and sometimes swim in almost like a duck. When it gets shallow enough they stand up on the beach. Sometimes a wave will come in and knock them over and they have to try again.

    Everyone: This is a really neat video and you will see chicks!

    http://www.arkive.org/yellow-eyed-penguin/megadyptes-antipodes/video-09d.html

    And you can hear how the yellow-eyed penguin parents greet each other and feed their chicks. Their Maori name, Hoiho, means noisy shouter.

  4. Hannah and Kaitlin:

    The penguins are fed twice a day, morning and evening, and feeding 30 or more penguins is a lot of work! They are fed small, young salmon. The night before, Rosalie takes out frozen fish and puts them in plastic containers so that by morning the fish are defrosted and ready to eat. Each penguin gets its own container of fish so she can be sure they are all getting the right enough fish.

    Right after breakfast she feeds them breakfast, she does it all again so that by tea time, the fish are defrosted and ready for them to eat. If she used a microwave to defrost them, they would get all mushy.

    Lachlan and Finn:

    The reserve around the penguin hospital is a beautiful place that changes every day. Besides yellow-eyed penguins, there are New Zealand fur seals, sometimes an elephant seal, little blue penguins and all kinds of seabirds at the reserve.

    Working at the penguin hospital is interesting because there is always something different happening and different penguins have different personalities. It can be a happy place when the penguins get well and go back to their home, or sad when a penguin is too sick and does not survive.

  5. Hi Jill
    I have a question for you this it what it’s going to say,

    When we went to Purakanui my dad saw a blue baby penguin trying to swim to shore he picked it up with his paddle and we took it DOC from Linus

    1. Elliot:

      I wrote a post and put up some pictures so you can see my daughter Anna releasing a yellow-eyed penguin. Just click on the “Home” button at the top of the blog.

  6. Leah and George:

    I don’t know how many boy and girl penguins there are at Katiki Point, partly because they are very hard to tell apart. I could ask Rosalie next time I visit and see if she knows, because she keeps careful records of the penguins for DOC.

    It is quite hard to tell them apart, but males are usually a bit bigger and their heads are a slightly different shape.

    Matthew and Harry:

    Rosalie has looked after hundreds of penguins over the year. Some have been to the hospital more than once.

    Linus:

    That is cool that you took a little blue penguin to DOC. It sounds like it was needing some help.

  7. Amelia:

    We don’t have any baby penguins right now, because they have all grown up. Unlike humans, penguins all have babies at the same time every year. So in September there will be eggs on their nests and at the start of November they will begin to hatch and we will see baby penguin chicks. I can’t wait!

    Simon:

    Penguins may get cuts anywhere on their bodies and sometimes they break bones. We don’t always know how they were injured. Maybe a seal tried to take a bite, or they got tangled in a net, or the sea was rough when they came to shore and they got thrown against the rocks. Or they might get bitten by a dog (that’s why you should never walk your dog near a penguin colony) or a feral (wild) cat.

    Sometimes penguins cannot find enough fish to eat and when they become weak from being hungry it is harder for them to fight off parasites or infections. Just like if you don’t eat a good diet with lots of fruits and vegetables, you might get sick easier.

    Sometimes penguins get a throat infection and cannot swallow their food; just like it is hard for us to eat when we have a really sore throat. Then they need medicine to fix the throat before they can eat.

  8. Linus:

    I don’t know exactly how many penguins have died, but I can tell you that many penguins would surely have died without Rosalie’s care in the penguin hospital. We get sad when a penguin dies, but because we know we are helping so many live longer, it makes it a bit easier.

    Amelia:

    We just never know how many penguins we will get in a day. Sometimes none, sometime three or four. A little while ago, Rosalie had 38 penguins in hospital at once. It took a lot of time preparing the fish to feed them and then feeding them! It was quite tiring for Rosalie but she had a few volunteers helping her so it was a bit easier than it would have been if she had to do everything herself.

  9. Annabel:

    Right now the oldest penguin that lives at Katiki Point is named Diesel Dick. He is over 20 years old. That is about as old as yellow-eyed penguins get. He raised two chicks last year, but his wife was quite sick. She was in hospital for a while and then returned to him. His story is on the blog:

    https://penguinhospital.wordpress.com/2009/05/07/diesels-story-illegal-dumping-founds-a-colony/

    Charlotte:

    Where penguins sleep depends on the kind of penguin that they are. Little blue penguins dig holes in the ground called burrows and they sleep there. At Katiki Point they move into old rabbit burrows instead of digging them themselves.

    Yellow-eyed penguins like to sleep under a bush or a tree usually near their nesting area. They don’t like to sleep too close to each other like most other penguins. But they don’t mind calling to each other rather loudly.

  10. Although penguins and chickens are both birds, penguins don’t lay eggs every day.

    Most penguins lay two eggs in a year, but they don’t always both hatch. Yellow-eyed penguins usually lay two eggs and they both usually hatch, so the parents must look after two penguin chicks at once.

  11. Annabel

    We feed them lots of baby salmon, and we like them to get really fat because a fat penguin is a healthy penguin.

    Some years we get more penguins than other years, and this year we had more than ever before. I don’t know exactly how many though.

    1. george4444,

      The penguin hospital has been running for close to 20 years. Before Rosalie came to Katiki Point, the hospital was run by Janice Jones who established the colony when she released a male penguin there. He came back the following year, 1991, and with his partner laid the first eggs at Katiki Point.

      Miss L.

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