Update on Penguins - 8.16.2007

Penguin_friends_webThe penguins in Uruguay are becoming much healthier and more vigorous after several days of being well fed, now that the IFAW Team is back on the ground. They are eating between 45-50 kg of fish/day.

Rodolfo has found many new fish suppliers to the North, towards the Brazilian border, who can be utilized in the future. SOCOBIOMA has a new freezer and improved storage capacity and fish will no longer be a limiting factor in the rehabilitation of oiled wildlife, as it has been.

The birds’ feathers are visibly improving, as well and as their waterproofing improves, they are spending longer periods of time in the water. Two birds were re-washed, and most are about 80% waterproof.

Teaching SOCOBIOMA’s staff and volunteers how to assess the birds’ waterproofness is now the main focus for the IFAW Team. Rodolfo and Chema (IFAW International Intern) have been working closely with the locals to teach them the grading process and how to evaluate birds for release. For birds to be deemed healthy enough for release, they must be perfectly waterproof, in good body condition, meet a weight criteria (within 10% of normal for the time of year) and meet blood parameter criteria. This assures that the released birds are as healthy as the rehabilitation process can make them and gives them the best chance for survival, once released.

Current numbers haven’t changed since the last report:

Total of oiled birds received: 53 Magellanic penguins

Live in care 41: 39 are clean; 2 still oiled (10 died + 2 euthanized)

Rodolfo is working on a written plan for SOCOBIOMA which will outline improvements that can be made to the facilities to increase their capacity. They are hoping to be ready and able to care for as many as 100 oiled birds by next season.

Most birds should meet release criteria by Wednesday of next week and the Team is planning a release for that day. We are hopeful that there will be some local press at the release to increase the awareness of the SOCOBIOMA Center and the work that’s they’re doing. The team is working with both Michael Booth and Joaquin de la Torre Ponce, from the Latin America Office, on media contacts for the upcoming release event.

Submitted by: Valeria Ruoppolo and Barbara Callahan

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