After more than 5 months in care, in an early, wintery predawn this July, Penguin Rehab and Release (PRR) said their goodbyes to Arthur as he finally went home to the big blue.
After a long and windy journey, Arthur was returned to his ocean home by the incredible staff at PRR.
If you haven't been following Arthur's journey, you can keep updated here:
Back in late June, after five months of intensive care, Arthur was all set to be released. That was until the PRR pool pump died (heavy rain caused water to travel down the electrical work and into the pump).
The team had an electrician come out and fix it, but... he used a kerosene-based sealant, and while the team blocked the immediate area off, Arthur managed to get it on his feathers rendering him once again no longer waterproof.
"Even a small patch means he's not releasable. Seawater would eventually wick through to other areas, chilling him and making it impossible for him to hunt, and if he didn't get to land pretty quickly he'd drown." said PRR.
Image: PRR Workers bathing Arthur
Arthur needed to be washed thoroughly, and then he had to go through the waterproofing process. The wash is a very detailed and precise procedure. It must be done really carefully or you can damage the feathers - then he would be in care until his next moult! It's also a very stressful procedure for any bird.
"He has been keeping us on our toes and providing some "excitement" that we didn't really need."
Arthur being Arthur, showed once again that he is a VERY special penguin! He didn't like it of course, but he was very well behaved with the detergent bath.
"Usually penguins will try to climb out, dive in, and fly away - all at the same time - but not Arthur."
Once he was thoroughly cleaned and dried, he could then start re-waterproofing himself by preening, but it's a process that can take a while particularly with the cold and damp Winter weather.
Images: Arthur getting ready for the ocean, with some special heating pads
After a very fraught and nerve wrecking 2 weeks, Arthur came through and on the 3rd of July, the hard-working team that had taken care of Arthur for more than 5 months, said goodbye to him as he finally got to go back home.
Image: Arthur at pre-dawn ready for release (pink tinge is from red torches)
PRR release penguins into the water. This ensures certainty of their fitness for ocean swimming as, if a penguin is unfit for release it will return to land, indicating that it may need to return to care. If it is fit for release it will swim out and not return.
They are also released after the colony has left for their fishing grounds, so as not to disturb them, and before predators (such as sea eagles and seals) wake up and set out to hunt.
He is a penguin with an exceptionally strong will to have survived all he has been through - starvation, vehicle impact (traumatic brain injury, facial and eye lacerations, bill injury), contaminated feathers, feather damage, burns, etc. And yet, throughout his stay with us he has had such a sunny disposition and positive outlook on life, that he has taken everything with great aplomb.
"He was a delightful guest and will always have a place in our hearts, it was so wonderful to see him go back home. As soon as we arrived he got quite excited, jumping up to see out of his box. He knew where he was and was so very ready to get back out into the Big Blue.
Then he was into the water and through the waves, and then....he was gone."
PRR would like to thank you all for joining them on this journey with Arthur, as well as a massive thanks to everyone in ARC who has taken Arthur into their hearts and provided so much support throughout his stay in care.
"Goodbye Arthur. Stay safe out in the Big Blue. Live long and prosper."
Story and images from Penguin Rehab and Release