Penguin nicknamed Pingu makes rare appearance 3,000km away from natural habitat

An Antarctic penguin has baffled scientists by making an appearance on the south-eastern coastline of New Zealand.

The Adelie penguin – which has been nicknamed Pingu – was found 3,000km away from where it would normally be found.

It had somehow ended up at Birdlings Flat, a tiny settlement on New Zealand's South Island, which has a population of just 195 people.

Worried locals called a local penguin rehabilitation centre after noticing that the penguin was not willing to go back into the water.

Owner of Christchurch Penguin Rehabilitation Thomas Stracke told The Guardian: "Apart from being a bit starving and severely dehydrated, he was actually not too bad, so we gave him some fluids and some fish smoothie."

Pingu was released onto the banks of the peninsula, where it is hoped he will start his long journey home, although Mr Starke admits to hoping that he would have "preferred" the penguin to have been transported via a flight which drops staff off at a local army base.

The idea was vetoed by the Department of Conservation, who said that the idea was not feasible.

Otago University zoology professor Philip Seddon said that the appearance of the penguin was "super rare", comparing it to a warning sign such as a "canary in a coalmine".

He said: "This is an early signal that things are not good.

"I think if we started getting annual arrivals of Adélie penguins, we’d go actually, something’s changed in the ocean that we need to understand.

"More studies will give us more understanding where penguins go, what they do, what the population trends are like – they’re going to tell us something about the health of that marine ecosystem in general."

According to reports, Antarctic penguins are being affected by "global heating", which makes penguin habitats "uneven and unpredictable," which is one possible reason why Pingu ended up far from home.

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