Sometimes, magic happens. The magic that WIRES carer Janine Green conjures up on a daily basis takes a lot of commitment and hard work. Bro, a Fiordland Crested Penguin, listed on the endangered species list was almost another sad statistic.He was found by Mara Roberts on 13 September, 2013 who called the local WIRES hotline. When Janine collected him he was lying among the rocks at Tura Beach, exhausted and with a large injury on his left leg thought to be from a boat propeller.
Janine, WIRES FSE Sea Bird co-ordinator (also known as the Penquin Princess) administered ‘first aid’ and called Dr Graeme Collins of Merimbula Veterinary clinic who assessed the penguin and gave him antibiotic injections.
Janine also reported the rescue to NPWS ranger Craig Dickmann because Fiordland Crested Penquins are listed as a vulnerable and endangered species and licenced wildlife carers are required to report to the authorities if they are bought into care.
Bro was on antibiotics for 3 weeks, given vitamins to build up his strength and he slowly recovered. Because of the nature of his injury, at first he was not waterproof; but eventually he was allowed into the shallow swimming pool at Janine’s enclosure.
Bro was eventually introduced into the large salt water swimming pool that he shared with Diamond, a green turtle, and Flo, a little penguin. His appetite was increased; he was catching his own fish and nearly doubled his original weight. A crucial decision was to be made –was Bro to be released back to the wild or sent to a zoo because of his vulnerable status?
Bro is one of five Fiordland Crested Penguins to ever come into care into NSW.
His health was assessed and the decision was made – he was fit and able for release and he was microchipped.
On Friday, May 16 the weather was perfect, the sea flat and the water crystal clear. Bro was driven to Bittangabee Bay at Ben Boyd National Park and was released out on the rocks. He waddled straight to the water’s edge, drank some seawater, looked around and jumped in the water. After a short swim and a wash of his eyes he came back to the shore and jumped across some of the rocks and dived in again swimming out further. He came ashore for a second time and looked around as if getting his bearings, hopped about, dived in and headed straight to the middle of the the bay hooking up with the current taking him out to the ocean. His instincts had kicked in and he was heading home. We watched him until the bay met the ocean. Bye Bro.
WIRES FSE would like to thank Merimbula Veterinary Clinic, Merimbula NPWS, Merimbula Tackleworld, Merimbula Aquarium, Phillip Island Penguin Facility, Alan Scrymgeour, Marny Bonner and Marg Larner for their advice, guidance and providing fish, fish and more fish during Bro’s care.