BUENOS AIRES (Reuters) – Twelve black-and-white Magellanic penguins have been returned to the chilly seas off the Atlantic coast of Argentina after they were rescued suffering from issues including malnutrition and anemia and nursed back to health.
The boot-high penguins waddled down a windswept sandy beach after being released by conservationists, paused for photos with onlooking beachgoers and children, before taking the plunge back into the sea and swimming off for freedom.
“We found these animals in a state of malnutrition and dehydration,” biologist Sergio Rodriguez, in charge of the rescue center at the Mundo Marino Foundation, said on the beach near the town of San Clemente del Tuyu.
“In some cases they had issue molting, that is the natural replacement of their feathers which had been interrupted for various reasons including lack of nutrients, which means they lacked the feathers to withstand the cold sea waters.”
The lack of plumage, he explained, forced the penguins to retreat to the beach because they could not maintain their temperature in the sea.
“The needed to be treated with an adequate balanced diet provided by nutritionists and with a veterinary medical team,” he said.
There are some 2.2 million to 3.2 million adult Magellanic penguins, named for Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan, mostly found around Argentina and Chile, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources.
Reporting by Miguel Lo Bianco; Writing by Adam Jourdan; Editing by Lisa Shumaker