Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Heartbreak Hotel as king penguin can't leave

Elvis is a king penguin that washed ashore near Cape St Francis in January, many thousands of kilometres away from his home on one of the sub-Antarctic islands.

No one knows how he got here, but when Trudi Malan of the Ajubatus Marine Rehabilitation Centre in St Francis was alerted, she and a local nature conservator rescued the creature.

The fellow is in a rehab centre on a windy headland in Cape St Francis and, every now and then, he throws back his head and croons his rather haunting song.

"I can't believe how well he's looking now. He is beautiful. My wish is to release him back home, possibly to Marion Island, but the scientists say we can't because of the risk that he will carry back diseases.

"I understand that from a scientific point they can't take that risk. But for us, it's a very emotional thing. Kings are very gregarious penguins, they breed shoulder to shoulder and they like to be with their friends," said Malan.

"And every time he calls, ah, I just want to die. He throws it back and makes this sound. It's beautiful but it's so sad."

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