|Cute face but sharp beak!|
The penguins that come to SANCCOB are organized into different holding pens depending on their age and condition: the younger chicks are in one area, those that need constant medical care are in another. Holding pen location number 2 (or Pen 2 for short) holds those birds that are out of the woods for the most part, swimming (even if it is for a short time) and are on their way to recovery. But that doesn’t mean it’s easier to take of them. Lots of work is still involved!
|My home for the day|
As Paul mentioned in an earlier post, each penguin (and there were 21 penguins in this pen today) has a daily regiment of fish, formula, medications, swim times and other items that all work together to form the recovery plan for each individual bird. As you can imagine, with 21 birds it’s A LOT of things to remember! That includes 3 swim times, 2 feeding times, formula time, 3 medication times and more! Thank goodness there is a data sheet for each today (like we have at the Aquarium), allowing the staff and volunteers to track what has been done already. However, to read it you need to learn a foreign language—every item has an abbreviation or color associated with it. It took a while to learn how to read the data sheet, but I think I got it down today!
|Data chart for Pen 2|
|Guano (poop) filled mats to be cleaned|
We were also busy making syringes of fishy milkshakes (known as “formula”) and setting the birds into the pool for their mandatory swim times. The swims are important not only to condition the penguin’s feathers but it gives the staff an idea of how the penguin is recovering. Feathers help keep penguins warm and dry and are vital to their survival in the wild. So the SANCCOB staff does a lot of work to see if the feathers are working properly. If the penguin swims for a bit and they still get water under their feathers, it means they aren’t ready to be released yet. If the feathers and down is dry after a good long swim, it means the day of release is a little bit closer! (Even our penguin chicks at the Aquarium get some practice swims!)
|Formula = fishy milkshakes|
|Thanks for the day, fellas!|
Learn more about the Southern African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds, or SANCCOB and their Chick Bolstering Project.
Learn more about the adventures of Jo's co-worker, Paul! Aquarium penguin biologist Paul Leonard is also in South Africa to study and care for African penguins in the Southern Hemisphere! Read about his experience on the Penguin Blog.