Dunedin opens up a hospital for penguins

Music 20/01/2017

Summer looks a lot brighter for Otago's penguins - they now have their very own 'penguin hospital' set up at Otago Polytechnic's School of Veterinary Nursing.

Over the past four years, barracouta fish attacks have been a real issue. Previously, injured penguins were sent to Wellington or Palmerston North for care.

Fortunately, the Yellow-Eyed Penguin Trust successfully raised enough money to contract wildlife veterinarian Lisa Argilla for a second year.

"One of the main problems we face is infection from wounds. Here, in Dunedin, we can start intravenous antibiotics within 24 hours. Because of that, our success rate of saving birds is much higher," Dr Argilla says.

Dr Argilla believes a change in feeding conditions has forced barracouta to compete with penguins for food closer to shore. "Penguin chicks are about a month away from fledging, so their parents are spending a lot more time back and forth between the ocean and nest to feed them," she says.

The first patient is a crested penguin, which arrived at the hospital yesterday afternoon.