Carlos had never seen a penguin afraid of the water. But when the wildlife rescuer from ORCA Peru picked up a Humbolt penguin who had washed ashore, he soon discovered that she had been traumatized by her experience.
The penguin named Natalia was found at Punta Hermosa Beach in Lima Peru. People had been pushing her into the water to try and help her. But she was injured and sick and terrified by the people’s attention so that each time they pushed her into the water she would wash back to shore, Carlos explained.
He took her back to ORCA Peru’s shelter where she would tremble in fear every time people approached her. Sadly, she had developed a water phobia because of her experience on the beach.
Carlos consulted with an expert in penguin behaviour to see what he could do to take away her fear of the water.
It took her a few days, but after a week of gentle conditioning Natalia started to eat fish in the water – exactly what the experts wanted her to do.
After 2 weeks another rescued penguin, Rosita, joined her. Rosita was far more active and they knew Rosita would be a great help to Natalia.
Seeing Natalia dive in the water for the first time made her rescuers very happy and they knew then that Natalia was ready to go back into the wild.
Life will not be without its challenges for the pair of penguins as they are seriously threatened in the wild by overfishing and manmade habitat destruction. But Natalia and Rosita successfully rejoined the rookery on a protected island for the birds, hopefully giving them a better chance of survival.