'Exhausted' Antarctic Penguin Rescued After 1,900-Mile Swim to New Zealand

A little penguin appears to have accidentally traveled from Antarctica to New Zealand on a journey that would have covered about 1,900 miles.

The bird, an Adélie penguin, was found on Wednesday on New Zealand's Birdlings Flat Beach by people who happened to be walking by.

It was soon taken into care thanks to Harry Singh. He called wildlife experts and refused to leave the penguin for hours until they arrived to make sure nothing happened to it.

Singh, who initially thought the bird was a soft toy until he saw it move, told the BBC: "It did not move for one hour and [looked] exhausted."

He added he didn't want to leave the penguin without getting it some help in case it ended up being eaten by predators, such as a dog.

Singh managed to take a video recording of the animal, which didn't appear to be particularly afraid of him, waddling around the beach and generally looking a bit lost.

He managed to get in touch with New Zealand penguin rescuer Thomas Stracke who has worked to rehabilitate the birds for a decade or so.

It took Stracke around two hours to get to the beach after he received the call from Singh, who was still by the bird when he arrived.

Stracke then collected the penguin and carried out some blood tests. He said, according to The Guardian newspaper: "Apart from being a bit starving and severely dehydrated, he was actually not too bad, so we gave him some fluids and some fish smoothie."

The penguin rescuer then attempted to get the bird transferred to Scott Base, a New Zealand Antarctic research facility located around 2,500 miles away from the country's capital Wellington, via an air force plane—but this was deemed unfeasible.

Making Its Way Home

Instead, Stracke released the penguin onto a beach in the Banks Peninsula on New Zealand's South Island where it's hoped the animal will eventually be able to make its way home from, The Guardian added.

Adélie penguins are rarely recorded far from the Antarctic coast or sea ice. There have only been two previous reported cases of individuals making it to New Zealand, according to New Zealand Birds Online—one in 1962, which was dead when it was found, and one in 1993.

The threats facing Adélie penguins include human visitors to Antarctica, resource extraction and the impact of climate change on sea ice. Still, they are abundant in Antarctica's Ross Sea area and it's thought there are around 10 million individuals worldwide.

Adelie penguin
A file photo of an Adélie penguin on a rocky pathway. The are only a few recorded cases of individuals traveling to New Zealand. Lucezn/Getty