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|December 14, 2010 - Sarah Dunn|
|Today I worked in ICU and again I was able to pick up on bit more of this routine since it was my second day in a row. Lucy was the supervisor of the day in this routine and Candace, one of the SANCCOB staff, helped quite a bit in the morning. Lucy did an excellent job managing this area today. In the morning I assisted by documenting which birds needed which treatments such as Darros, water, ointment for eyes or any oral medications. The ICU group of penguins is divided to ease care a bit. Right now there are two juvenile oiled penguins plus one adult oiled penguin; there are few that are a bit weaker and then the stronger ones. SANCCOB not only takes care of penguins, but all coastal birds that come their way needing treatment. ICU has a Cape Gannet that has a small head injury and a Comerant. I spent most of the morning working on cleaning the ICU area and replacing towels and sheets on the floor with quite a bit of help from resident Rockhopper penguin, Rocky. I assisted with tube feeding several times today as well as taking some of the birds for a brief swim to provide exercise and to help them rebuild their oil on their feathers. The most difficult part of the day was trying to assist the birds staying cool. It is summer time right now in South Africa and it was probably close to 80 degrees today. I have been told that summer time here is normally very windy. I have to admit as strong as the winds are, it really helps keep things cool. Today there wasn't much wind and not only were the people hot but so were the birds. We took a spray bottle around a couple of times misting the birds to help them cool off. We also set up fans to keep the air circulating around them. We took the healthiest of the group outside to a pen to get some fresh air. I was able to mist this group with the hose while waiting for the pool to be available to give them a swim. There are two pools shared between all the pens and we need to keep the groups separate for their care, so each group swims separately. At the end of the day after observing how the birds are responding to treatments, I go home worried mostly about two birds. One is a fairly young bird. We noticed a bit of dried blood inside of its beak. At first this is not necessarily alarming. Many species of penguins will nip at each other with their beaks, this is normal behavior relating to personal space...which probably most humans can relate to. Their beaks are sharp, similar to a paper cut in your hand, a small cut on the beak can bleed a bit. At first we thought this might be the case, however as the morning went on we realized this chick seemed to be more lethargic and struggling bit more to breathe. It’s possible that the blood and other fluid could be building up in the chest cavity or lungs. There is still hope though. This bird was moved to a different location for closer observation. There is also one adult that has an injury to the abdomen area and appears to be very weak. We attempted to feed fish today but he struggled to keep it down, so tomorrow may bring more fluids and gruel to get him more nutrients and hopefully feeling better. There are so many birds to care for and so much to do there almost isn't time to get too attached to any one particular bird, but I am rooting for these two. Let’s hope there is bit of improvement tomorrow! SANCCOB will save as many individuals as possible, in turn they, and we, can hopefully make a difference for this amazing species.|
Skittish African Penguins cross a road on Robben Island in South Africa.
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