Penguins swim free after successful rehabilitation

Wednesday, 13 February, 2008
Yarmouth Port, Mass
A total of 163 Magellanic penguins waddled into the South Atlantic waters after spending a few weeks getting clean and healthy following an oil spill in Patagonia, Argentina. IFAW (the International Fund for Animal Welfare – successfully rehabilitated and released these and other oiled seabirds affected by the mystery spill that occurred last December 26th.
IFAW worked with local group Fundación Patagonia Natural (FPN) and the Argentine government in the rescue of 200 threatened Magellanic penguins and other birds including Steamer ducks, Silvery grebes, cormorants and Great grebes reaching a total of 642 birds treated.
“This is not the first time we have been asked to work alongside the staff of FPN to fight the scourge of oil pollution, and the threat to the wonderful wildlife of this region,” said IFAW Manager Ian Robinson. “Through good teamwork between IFAW and FPN, and strong government support, we are delighted to be able to return so many birds to the wild, which otherwise would have died.  This combined effort not only saved affected birds from suffering, but also helps the conservation of their species.”
As the operations in Patagonia wind down, the team of experts will disassemble the temporary shelter set up in Caleta Córdova and move north, where the remaining birds in intensive care will get further treatment in Puerto Madryn.
A single drop of oil is sometimes enough to kill a seabird as the insulation properties of their plumage are destroyed. This spill off the coast of Argentina covered an area of 24 square kilometers in the Atlantic Ocean threatening hundreds of animals.
Year after year, hundreds of thousands of animals are affected by large spills and chronic oiling in South America and other parts of the world. Since the Exxon Valdez spill of 1989, IFAW’s oiled wildlife team works alongside local groups, rehabilitators and veterinarians aiming to provide the best achievable care for oiled wildlife globally and to develop practical and achievable prevention strategies. 

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