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|August 9, 2010|
|It's a government holiday here in South Africa, so no one was working today. Nola decided it would be a good day to have some quiet time to do some necropsies. So of course I asked if I could help out. At first, I was wondering what they did at SANCCOB, about the care of the animals since no one is working. But once I got there, I saw that the whole center is just run by the vollies! Could you imagine if all the husbandry and vet staff left MAIFE for the day and just had the volunteers come in and do all the cleaning, feeding, record-keeping and medicine? Wow! But they did it, and all the birds received everything they needed! Yay for volunteers! Nola and I began the necropsies. We had brought back three dead penguins with us from Betty's Bay on Friday, and there was one Kelp Gull and one Hartlaub Gull that had died at the center. I thought the necropsies would take much longer than they did. Nola wasn't really taking too many samples to send out. She basically just does the necropsies to determine a basic cause of death. The three penguins we brought back from Betty's Bay were really quite sad. All three were blue stage and looked very much like our little Blue/Purple and Blue/Black. We couldn't necropsy one because it was too far gone. Nola thinks it died of possible drowning. One of the others we brought back quite obviously had a lung infection. There were abscesses and puss in the lungs and trachea. That bird was underweight as well. The second bird was a beautiful bird! It was so healthy looking and big. Well-fed, well-groomed, no parasites. Such a shame! Cuan, the manager of the Betty's Bay colony, said when he found the body, he could tell from the sand that there was an obvious struggle. It seems that the bird was killed by a dog! It had puncture marks around its skull. Nola said this happens frequently. There is even one woman who lives on the hillside of Betty's Bay that has trained her dog to go after and attack the birds. I can't imagine doing that. After the necropsies were done, Nola decided that since it was a holiday and all, we had to go out to a nice lunch and celebrate the fact that we are women, too! So we had a nice long lunch by the ocean. I also saw my first oiled penguins yesterday afternoon. Cuan at Betty's Bay had found them and sent them over. I hope I never have to see that again, and these penguins weren't even that badly oiled. But they were already breathing a little heavier and were a little weak. The vollies tube fed them some fluids and charcoal, which none of the birds seem to like, and then they were put under heat lamps to rest overnight. They actually don't clean the oiled birds right away. They like to give them a chance to rest and warm up a bit and de-stress from the catching and car ride. They will probably wash them tomorrow, which hopefully I will at least get to see. It sounds like tomorrow I will be helping with their weekly blood draws and then entering the data from the tests we ran on our last two trips out. Then, Wednesday, we will be heading out to Robben Island! Give Blue/Black and Blue/Purple a big “hug'”for me and tell them how lucky they are that they don't end up with bite wounds and oiled feathers like these birds!|
Skittish African Penguins cross a road on Robben Island in South Africa.
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