Bushy-browed penguin swims 1,240 miles, finds mates
www.chinaview.cn 2007-01-10 17:42:01

    BEIJING, Jan. 10 (Xinhuanet) -- A rare "Groucho Marx" penguin found worn out and exhausted on an Australian beach after a 1,240-mile (2,000 km) swim has been rescued by Sydney zookeepers, but after getting his strength back will have to earn his keep by comforting two lonely females of his vulnerable species.

A rare Fiordland Crested Penguin, also known as a "Groucho Marx" penguin, lies on its back at Sydney's Taronga Zoo in this Dec. 21, 2001 file photo.

A rare Fiordland Crested Penguin, also known as a "Groucho Marx" penguin, lies on its back at Sydney's Taronga Zoo in this Dec. 21, 2001 file photo. (Reuters Photo)
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    The late, great American comedian, known to cast an appreciative eye at a pretty girl, would waggle his cigar and say "that's just what the doctor ordered."

    The Fiordland Crested Penguin, so-named Groucho Marx penguins because of their distinctive bushy eyebrows, is one of the world's most endangered penguin species and is usually found in the frigid sub-Antarctic waters off southern New Zealand.

    The male penguin was found at Norah Head, a sleepy beachside hamlet about 50 miles (80 km) north of Sydney, last November. The penguin, nicknamed "Munroe" was exhausted and suffering respiratory problems after his trans-Tasman trek.

    He was taken to Sydney's Taronga Zoo, where he is now the only male of his species in captivity in the world.

    Restored to ruddy good health after medical checks and a steady diet of pilchards, Munroe will soon be introduced to the zoo's other fiordland penguins "Chalky" and "Milford," the only two females in captivity, and get down to the job at hand.

    "The girls have been on their own for quite some time now," Taronga Zoo spokeswoman Danielle McGill said.

    According to McGill, Munroe already has happy feet at prospect of meeting his new companions.

    "He hasn't seen them yet but he's heard them. He's quite excited, he keeps trying to escape to get to them," she said.

    The distinctive call of fiordland penguins has been described as a cross between a grunting pig and a goose with a cold.

    The zoo's penguin keeper Mel Grainger said Chalky and Milford had appeared keen to breed, laying eggs each year and taking turns sitting on them in an attempt to incubate the infertile eggs.

    Shy and timid fiordland penguins nest in coastal forests along the fiords of southern New Zealand and are threatened by habitat destruction, fisheries and introduced predators.

    There are estimated to be only 1,000 breeding pairs left in the wild.

    (Agencies)

Editor: Gareth Dodd
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