Perplexed pigeon hatches penguin

JARED NICOLL
Last updated 07:22 30/10/2012
blue penguin
Jared Nicoll

Helping hand: Picton aquarium EcoWorld manager Regan Russell inspects a little blue penguin chick called Rambo

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A pet pigeon looked surprised to discover it had hatched a little blue penguin last week, the pigeon's owner says.

The three-day old-penguin, named Rambo because he is a survivor, weighed just 36 grams and is being cared for at the EcoWorld Aquarium in Picton after its egg was found near the penguin colony under the Queen Charlotte Yacht Club following a very high spring tide on October 18.

EcoWorld manager Regan Russell said fellow staff member Kishan Kirkwood placed Rambo's egg under a pet pigeon at his home the day it was found and it hatched three days later.

"The egg was stone cold when we went to pick it up and we thought no way but Kishan decided to try it under a pigeon, and it worked."

"The pigeon kept sitting up and looking at the penguin, sitting down again, sitting up looking at it wondering what the [heck] . . . I guess."

Rambo's egg, similar in size to a chicken egg, was at the end of its 36-day term and the pigeon only had to sit on it for three days before the shell began to crack open.

"Kishan tried it with a duck egg before so he thought it was a goer and it worked."

Staff were alerted to the egg by a resident who noticed it had washed up on the beach near the yacht club after likely being flooded from its nest under the club during high seas.

The average little blue penguin chick weighs between 700 grams and 800g, but Rambo weighs just 36g. An adult generally weighs about 1.5 kilograms and lives for 6.5 years.

Rambo will slowly lose his fluff to adult feathers and will learn to swim in a pool at the aquarium before being released.

"As soon as he dives into the pool looking for the fish he'll be ready to go."

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- The Marlborough Express

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