Several little blue penguin, or korora, have been stolen from their nest in New Zealand. The species is declining, according to the Department of Conservation.
Thieves in New Zealand have stolen two little blue penguins after using a crowbar to force their burrow open. A third penguin was killed in the raid, according to officials.
The little blue penguin, or kororā, in the local Maori language, is the smallest species of penguin. The flightless birds, which are only around 12 inches tall, are found on New Zealand’s coastline. Their conservation status is described as “declining” by the country’s Department of Conservation (DOC).
In a statement, the DOC said that the raid on the penguins’ burrow at Perfume Point in Napier on New Zealand’s North Island occurred late on Jan. 24.
DOC Hawkes Bay Compliance Officer Rod Hansen said that officials received information that a woman was spotted holding a torch while two men forced the penguins’ burrow open with a crowbar. Authorities suspect that the crowbar was used to hook the penguins out of the nest.
File photo of little blue penguin chicks. (F.C. Kinsky, DOC)
Three penguins were removed from the nest, one of which died during the raid and was left behind.
Wrapped in towels, the two live penguins were taken by the group, which drove them away from Perfume Point in a white car.
“We are really concerned as we believe this might not be a one-off,” said Hansen, in the statement. “We have no idea where these birds are being taken to and we are seeking CCTV footage from the surrounding area and hoping members of the public may be able to come forward with further information.”
File photo of little blue penguin in burrow, Chatham Islands. (Department of Conservation, DOC)
On Jan 25, a dead penguin was found floating nearby. The bird, which appears to be the third penguin taken from the nest, had died from a head injury.
DOC officials are working with other government agencies in New Zealand in an attempt to track the thieves down. A number of people have already been interviewed, according to Hansen.
Officials note that the little penguin is the most common penguin on New Zealand’s coastlines. The birds’ scientific name is “Eudyptula,” which translates as “good little diver.”
File photo of little penguin tracks. (Becs Gibson, DOC)
The tiny penguins are also found on the southern coast of Australia, where they are sometimes called “fairy penguins.”
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