It had the whole sea to swim in, but one little blue penguin decided it rather fancied a bath.
The penguin was found stuck in an outdoor bath in Eastbourne, Lower Hutt, yesterday morning.
Holiday cottage manager Lynne Plimmer got a call from her tenants saying the penguin needed rescuing after spending the night at her seaside property.
"Honestly, I couldn't believe it. I thought, 'I'm hearing things'," Plimmer said.
"Maybe it thought it was the sea or something and jumped in in the dark."
In her 12 years living in Eastbourne, Plimmer had seen only half a dozen of the shy penguins, the smallest of their species.
"They tend to go under houses and rocks," she said. "To see one in a bath is quite extraordinary."
It took five people to pick up the penguin with the aid of a towel, and it was then taken to the beach in a recycling bin, Plimmer said.
The penguin happily swam away, looking back just once.
Holidaying couple Linda and Graham Cresswell, from Birmingham in England, rang a vet, the SPCA and a Department of Conservation ranger when they found the penguin at their cottage.
They did not at first realise how special an encounter with a little blue penguin was, Linda Cresswell said.
"Being from the UK, we just thought, 'Hello, who's that in the bath?' " she said.
Homeowners should generally leave little blue penguins alone if they visited a property, Eastbourne forest ranger Ray Smith said.
"They come onshore because they want to rest a bit. They don't want to be interfered with," he said.
If it was necessary to move a penguin that was stuck or in the line of traffic, Smith advised wearing gloves because the penguins' beaks were sharp and strong.
The breeding season, when penguins most commonly came to shore, began in October, he said.
- The Dominion Post
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