45 Minutes To Clean A Penguin

With the release of all of the grebes and most of the cormorants behind us, we are now focusing on getting all the penguins washed and healthy enough to be released as well. (One of my reasons for not posting to the blog as frequently is because our days have become much much longer and I enjoy at least 4 hours of sleep at night).

There are always unpredictable circumstances that challenge us to meet our goal at the end of the day; whether it's that the water tanks have run dry, more birds are brought in that need immediate care, more oil surfacing requires additional search and collection or that some of our staff can't access the Center because the road had been blocked off!

During the first two days of penguin washing our aim was to have at least 20 through the wash and rinse process by the evening. As our routines began to flow easier and an additional wash/rinse section was added, 20 penguins slowly increased to 25. Feeling the endurance, the wash team decided that we should aim to wash 50 penguins in one day whether or not we had to stay until midnight and in the end we did it! That was one very long day.

Entering the "wash and rinse" process can be extremely stressful for the birds, so it is therefore extremely important that each individual present average or above average blood levels and be at a good weight. The first step in the process is to have their photo logged and a feather sample taken. Some penguins are better at standing still for a photo than others. Typically, I was taking 4 shots of each individual hoping at least one would come out reasonable enough. The importance of a good photo is so that our data matches up with the number of animals we claim to have in house at the end of the day and a photo ID of each bird will accomplish that.

From here the penguins move into the wash room where it can take anywhere from 30-45 minutes in a wash tub. A thorough wash is then followed by a lengthy rinse. Again the rinse can take anywhere from from 30-45 minutes, usually closer to 45 or more. At the end of the rinse, the penguin's feathers are closely examined to ensure that water will "bounce" from the feather surfaces.

Here is a slide show compilation of the average wash day:

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