Fleeting fame for poor Percy

01:43, Jan 31 2009
MOMENT OF FAME: Percy had just been picked as the mascot for a penguin rescue project when he got his leg broken and had to be put down.

Fresh salmon, daily massages and female company - it was all too much for Percy the Penguin, who died just hours after being picked as the mascot for a penguin rescue project.

The little blue penguin was adopted by Forest & Bird after being found washed up near Wellington's Shelly Bay this month.

His leg was tangled in a fishing line and broken.

Percy was nursed back toward health with daily massages, and even fixed up with a female.

Yesterday morning Forest & Bird announced Percy would be the face of its Places for Penguins project, complete with a Facebook page, and a "Percy-cam" in his nestbox.

It was also hoped to fit a tracking device so his friends could check on him when he was released.

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But just four hours later came the tragic news - Percy was dead.

"The circulation to his foot could not be recovered despite the massaging and had to be amputated. He then lost condition and had to be euthanased," Forest & Bird spokeswoman Heather Anderson said.

Percy was a friendly bird, who liked to rub people with his beak, she said.

"Normally little blue penguins are quite feisty and will try to peck you."

Little blue penguins (korora), the size of a rugby ball, are the world's smallest penguin.

Their New Zealand population is in decline, with the main threats loss of habitat, dog attacks, and being hit by cars.

The Dominion Post