King penguin fed-up with the icy cold climate of Antarctica takes a 6000km summer holiday to Australia – leaving animal experts baffled as he waddles along the beach
A king penguin that mysteriously traveled 6,000km to Australia has left animal experts baffled.
The Friends of Shorebirds South East (FOSSE) had just completed a survey of local wildlife along the Coorong, a stretch of coastline south of Adelaide, on January 15, when the Antarctic penguin suddenly appeared from the water.
Despite being far from home, the waterfowl was fearless enough to walk towards the group’s car before making ‘strange roars’.
The same holiday penguin visited fisherman Steve Jenkins at Wreck Crossing along the Coorong a few weeks later on Australia Day.
A king penguin shocked a group of local bird watchers after it emerged from the waters along the Coorong, a stretch of coastline south of Adelaide, on January 15 (pictured)
FOSSE president Jeff Campbell said the penguin could have ended up on the beach to molt – a three to four week process where all the bird’s feathers are replaced.
Mr. Campbell said the bird approached them, apparently out of curiosity, and that he ‘wouldn’t be surprised if this bird had never seen a human before’.
“It came from a sub-Antarctic island like Heard Island or Macquarie Island and landed here, so probably had never encountered a human and didn’t know humans could be dangerous,” he told the ABC .
Footage of the encounter by Mr Jenkins shows the penguin waddling slowly along the sand just meters from the fisherman.
He told the national broadcaster that the bird stayed for several hours until it started to pack up and leave.
Mr Jenkins posted the footage on a local Facebook page with the caption ‘the things that say hello on Australia Day’.
The penguin was about 6,000 km away from its natural habitat in Antarctica and was surprisingly curious to get up close and personal with local residents (photo)
Sightings of a king penguin on Australian shores is extremely rare, with only two recorded sightings in the past 40 years.
The last sighting was in 2004 at Port MacDonnell, near the Victorian border, and before that was in 1987 near Canuda National Park, west of Mount Gambier.
What would normally be a once in a lifetime event was instead the second time seeing a king penguin for FOSSE’s secretary Maureen Christie who was also present for the 2004 sighting.
Ms Christie said the penguin’s current location was currently unknown and urged beachgoers not to approach the penguin if they encountered it.
She also said that dogs are a particular danger to the animals as they are likely to be curious about them and may be attacked.