Late last year local business owner Elliot Hall, who worked as a voluntary lifeguard at the Scottburgh Lifesaving Club successfully captured an injured juvenile jackass penguin which had been spotted the previous weeken.
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At the time, the penguin’s life was in danger as it had started the process of moulting. For penguins, this process is also sometimes referred to as a ‘catastrophic moult’ as they shed all their feathers at once. During period penguins stay on land and fast for two to three weeks relying on built-up fat reserves to tide them over until their new feathers emerge.
Principal caregiver and animal behaviourist Kelly de Klerk was contacted and collected the penguin, which has since been named Groot – after Groot from Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy. He was taken to uShaka Marine World.
“He was severely dehydrated with an obvious injury to his left flipper. He was administered fluids and antibiotics and left to rest for the first two days in hospital,” said Kelly.
After three days in recovery, Groot awoke and was absolutely starving – in fact, he consumed a record 20 fish. Kelly explained that it was in that moment that they knew Groot would be just fine.
He quickly regained his strength and his infection cleared. It is believed that the 18-month-old Groot had possibly been washed off the rocks during heavy storms which had struck Port Elizabeth during the moulting season.
“He was lucky to have escaped whichever predator it was that thought of him as a tasty snack but, the injuries inflicted made it even more difficult to make his way home,” said Kelly.
Groot is doing well and has even managed to pick up a total of 1.1kg in weight. He now weighs in at 4.4kg and is said to not like humans, except if they carry food.
At the end of January, Groot will join four other penguins in rehabilitation and will then be taken to the Southern African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds in Port Elizabeth where he will join a group of penguins being prepared for release.
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