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.
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."
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 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.