Morgan takes the plunge

Morgan the white-flippered penguin, who was a big chicken when it came to water, has finally taken the plunge.

The 16-year-old penguin, found skinny and lost wandering through a Banks Peninsula paddock in May,  refused to swim when he arrived at the International Antarctic Centre in Christchurch.

Now Morgan is chubby, content and swimming with the 24 other penguins in the colony at the centre.

This morning he climbed on to penguin keeper Mallorie Hackett's lap and she hand-fed him 17 fish.

Two female penguins have been "giving Morgan the eye" since he was introduced to the colony, but Hackett said he was too busy swimming to be interested in romance.

Hackett said Morgan was the first penguin she had come across that refused to swim.

"He used to use his beak and flippers to haul himself out every time he was put in water," she said.

When Morgan arrived at the centre he was aggressive and disoriented, and Hackett said he had spent 45 days in quarantine, refusing to swim. When Morgan was introduced to the colony, centre staff applauded when he took his first plunge into the water.

"Morgan is a real character and he's definitely a ladies' man. Seeing him swimming about in the pool was just great because when he came to us he couldn't get out of water fast enough," she said.

Operations manager David Ferrand said Morgan was popular with females.

"He is a good-looking boy and everyone has fallen for him, even the female penguins," he said.

The Press