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Many hands make happy feet

Two signallers go hands-on with little blue penguins at Napier Port.

14 March, 2023

Blue penguin YouTube cover

New Zealand Army: Soldiers help to tag a Blue Penguin

They might be the world’s smallest penguins, but they can still be a disgruntled handful when you want to take them from their nest and tag them.

A Napier port penguin expert called on two soldiers to help with gently holding kororā /little blue penguins while she quickly applied a tag.

During the Cyclone Gabrielle relief operations, Signaller Aaron Mulligan and Corporal Torquil McLeod-Jones were at a temporary Army facility near Napier Port’s kororā sanctuary when they were approached.

“This lovely lady came up to the Corporal and I and said, hey, would you guys be able to help us get a tracker into a penguin?” said SIG Mulligan.

I thought, that’s an offer you never get in your life.

Corporal Torquil McLeod-Jones during his blue penguin encounter

Corporal Torquil McLeod-Jones during his blue penguin encounter

Cautioned that penguins bite, the pair donned gloves. SIG Mulligan carefully extracted a seven-week-old chick from its nesting box and, with a bag placed over its head, the tracker was able to be injected and the penguin returned to its nest. CPL McLeod-Jones had his own close encounter shortly after.

The sanctuary, created in 2019, was reported as a world-first on-port penguin sanctuary in Hawke’sBay media. Despite the industrial nature of a port, it provides asafe space as it is free of threats like dogs, cats and humans.

According to the Napier Port’s website, there are around 90 breeding pairs in the sanctuary.