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|November 29, 2012 - Tracy Camp|
I finally made it! After a very long plane ride, I am back in South Africa! I am so excited to see our long lost penguin friends again. It has been two years since my last journey to Cape Town, but this time will be very different. On my last journey to Africa, I was able to assist with important research to better understand why this species is declining at such a rapid rate. This time I will be on the other end of conservation—rehabilitating chicks to help improve the population!
Upon my arrival it was so comforting to be welcomed by a familiar face. Laurie was just finishing up her last couple of days here in Africa. She was able to catch me up and give me some important updates so that I could prepare for my first shift.
For my very first day, during the morning meeting, the staff welcomed me back to SANCCOB and promptly assigned me to the ICU for the day. There were three of us covering that routine. Marguerite, one of the staff, took me under her wing and gave me a quick run down of the routine and procedures. We were also paired with Sharon, a staff member here from the SeaWorld parks.
The ICU has the highest amount of birds, currently totaling 48, and they are the weakest birds, youngest birds or newest birds to be admitted. The day is run with a rigorous schedule of giving them proper fluids, fish and formula several times daily. These birds are also kept inside overnight, but during the day they get relocated to outdoor pens for fresh air and sunlight. Although they are African penguins, it is still awfully hot outside for them as it the middle of summer here. So we must take proper care and watch to ensure that they do not overheat.
Even though the day was extremely busy, I still had the time to already establish my favorite; number 630. He is a small what they would consider a "P3" stage. He partially has his little blue feathers in, but still a bit of fluffy down. Whenever I go into the pen, he is always the first one at my feet. He even tries to climb up my pant legs if I am feeding another bird! Or if he cannot climb up my pant leg, he enjoys burrowing inside my pant leg! Now I know Laurie was trying to convince me that I should take notice of her favorite, 614, but let me tell you, 614 has nothing on 630!
At the end of the day the wonderful staff of SANCCOB invited Laurie and I out for a nice African dinner. We had local game and while you wait for your food, they come around and do face painting. So we were all decorated for dinner!
What an adventure! It is only day one! I can't wait to continue on this journey!
Skittish African Penguins cross a road on Robben Island in South Africa.
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