Chaka the fairy penguin was happily living life at Weymouth Sea Life Adventure Park when his keepers noticed he was looking a little wobbly on his flippers. To find out what was going on, the care team took him to Cave Veterinary Specialists for an MRI scan, representing a world first for this species.
Fairy penguins are also known as little blue penguins and are native to New Zealand and southern Australia. They are the world’s smallest penguin species measuring around 25-35 centimeters (9.8-13.7 inches) tall and weighing just over a kilogram (2.2 lbs). In contrast, the world's largest ever penguin is an extinct species known through fossils called Kuminanu fordycei that lived over 57 million years ago.
Little blue penguins kept at The National Aquarium of New Zealand are regularly reviewed for their behavior and awarded naughty and good penguins of the month. Chaka, though, is a very well-behaved penguin for the veterinary team. Though used to doing MRI scans on all manner of pets, they went out of their way to make sure Chaka was settled and happy during his MRI. Chaka was scanned successfully by the veterinary team and fortunately, his MRI results gave him a clean bill of health.
“Chaka has become a penguin pioneer. Although his own waddle may still be a little wobbly, he has made great strides for the world of veterinary science and the penguin world.” said Kico Iroala, Curator at SEA LIFE Weymouth in a statement on their Facebook page.
The team plans to share the results of the MRI with other specialists and zoos to provide knowledge and information to benefit the species.
Across the pond in San Diego, a four-year-old African penguin received brand new orthopedic shoes last summer after a degenerative foot condition caused problems with his walking.