18 Oct, 2017 7:40pm
Wellington Zoo is throwing its weight behind the little blue penguin in a bid to get it voted in as Bird of the Year.
They're only about 25cm tall and weigh about 1kg, but the native New Zealand seabird can eat 40 per cent of its body weight per day, a fact that the zoo's senior keeper of birds Philip Wisker likes to tell visitors during his penguin talks.
As part of Conservation Week, the zoo is pushing for people to vote in the penguins, which can be found around Wellington, for Bird of the Year.
At the time of print, the bird had 541 votes.
They are currently classed as vulnerable thanks to threats such as loss of food and being hit by cars, as well as falling prey to cats and dogs.
There are five little blue penguins at Wellington Zoo, all of which have been brought in from the wild.
Malteser has been a resident at the zoo for five years, after he was attacked by a dog and brought in by a member of the public. The zoo runs an animal hospital called The Nest Te Kohanga, which often takes in native birds.
"They were able to patch him back together but unfortunately they couldn't rescue his eye, so he's got an eye missing," said senior keeper of birds, Philip Wisker.
With the partial loss of that sense, Malteser couldn't be sent back into the wild, so instead lives at the zoo with his partner, Squidge, a penguin that was brought in as a baby.
"Squidge was found when she was very, very young, she was a little ball of fluff."
Someone thought she was abandoned, so brought her in, Wisker said.