Dazed and confused penguin is treated for depression

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The Independent Online

A baby penguin found wandering in a dazed state near an Australian fast-food restaurant was first jailed and then treated for depression yesterday.

A baby penguin found wandering in a dazed state near an Australian fast-food restaurant was first jailed and then treated for depression yesterday.

The six-week-old chick was picked up by police and kept in a cell overnight after it was found loitering near a McDonald's in suburban Melbourne at 2.30am. It was given a box and a bowl of water. Government wildlife officers then took it to Melbourne Zoo, where it was seen by a vet and admitted to an animal clinic.

A spokeswoman for the zoo said that the bird wasextremely distressed afterits day out on the town andthe accompanying media attention. "Stress alone can make them very ill and kill them," she said. "They are not gearedup for this, and they get verydepressed."

How the penguin ended up waddling through the streets of Preston, in northern Melbourne, was not clear. A local resident alerted police to its presence. Wildlife experts speculated that it might have been stolen from a beach or from Phillip Island Nature Park, an island south of the Victorian mainland, and then dumped.

Constable Kelvin Brown, of Preston police, said the penguin initially appeared quite calm when picked up, but later became distressed. The penguin will remain at the zoo until it is well enough to be taken to Phillip Island.

* Hundreds of Australians were rescued in separateemergencies yesterday when storms flooded a number of towns and a bushfire burnt out of control near southern coastal communities.

More than 200 people were ordered to leave the New South Wales town of Lismore, with up to 10 rivers flooded or threatening to burst their banks in the state. Houses holding about 150 people were evacuated overnight in the remote South Australian coastal town of Tulka, threatened by a bushfire that was still burning out of control late on Friday.

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