Endangered penguin 'rescued' by students from South African marine park 'will not survive in wild'

Buddy was part of a breeding pair of rare African black-footed penguins, and one of his chicks has died since he was stolen

Adam Withnall
Africa Correspondent
Wednesday 28 September 2016 15:50
Comments
(FILE) An African penguin (Spheniscus demersus), also known as Black-footed Penguin, is pictured near Cape Town, in South Africa, on July 4, 2010
(FILE) An African penguin (Spheniscus demersus), also known as Black-footed Penguin, is pictured near Cape Town, in South Africa, on July 4, 2010

Two students may have inadvertently killed a critically endangered African penguin, after they broke into a marine park in South Africa and “rescued” it from captivity.

Buddy the penguin was stolen from Bayworld in Port Elizabeth by two students in their early 20s, who claim they acted in protest against keeping animals in captivity.

Unfortunately for them, and for the African black-footed penguin species, Buddy was one of a breeding pair and looking after two chicks with his partner Frances at the time. One of the chicks has since died.

And because Buddy was born in captivity and has never had to fend for himself, he is highly likely to starve to death outside the oceanarium.

Staff and volunteers have launched a desperate search along the Port Elizabeth coastline to try and bring Buddy home before it is too late.

CCTV footage from the early hours of last Wednesday showed the moment the two students parked their car outside Bayworld, climbed into the pool in the penguin enclosure and then bundled Buddy out into the waiting vehicle. They drove a short distance to the ocean, where they released him.

Dylan Bailey, manager of Bayworld, told the AFP news agency on Tuesday that he believed Buddy had enough fat reserves to survive around three weeks from the moment he was stolen.

That was one week ago, and staff at Bayworld told The Independent on Wednesday that the search for Buddy still goes on.

“He is completely ill-equipped to survive in the wild,” Mr Bailey said. “He will have no idea where he is.”

African black-footed penguins are native to Angola, Mozambique, Namibia and South Africa, and a decision was recently made to put them onto the critically endangered list, with only an estimated 20,000 breeding pairs left in the wild.

The animals also pair for life, meaning if Buddy can’t be found, it is unlikely Frances will successfully mate with another male.

As for the students, who have not been named, it remains unclear what legal recourse - if any - will be taken against them.

“They are convinced what they did was in the interests of the penguin," Mr Bailey told AFP. "They thought what they were doing was right.

"We are still discussing the matter with their legal representative. There was no malicious intention. They did not intend harm."

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in