Royal penguin stranded on New Zealand beach dies

February 21, 2013 - 9:30 PM

New Zealand Royal Penguin Found

In this Wednesday, Feb. 20, 2013 photo provided by the Wellington Zoo a royal penguin rests in an enclosure at the Welling Zoo in Wellington, New Zealand. Thirsty and thin, the penguin was been found stranded on a New Zealand beach more than 1,000 miles from its sub-Antarctic home. (AP Photo/Wellington Zoo) EDITORIAL USE ONLY

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — A royal penguin that became stranded on a beach more than 1,000 miles from its sub-Antarctic home has died at a New Zealand zoo.

The penguin was emaciated and suffering kidney failure when it arrived at the Wellington Zoo after being found Sunday by hikers.

The zoo did the best it could, Lisa Argilla, the facility's veterinary science manager, said Friday. They suspect the penguin suffered multiple organ failure. It was severely underweight, she said, and had no reserves.

The penguin was about a year old, 50 centimeters (20 inches) long and weighed about 2.7 kilograms (6 pounds) when it arrived, Argilla said. Royal penguins can grow to about 75 centimeters (30 inches) and 5.5 kilograms (12 pounds).

They have a yellow crest, eat krill and squid and generally live around Macquarie Island, about halfway between New Zealand and Antarctica. They are considered a threatened species but not endangered. They shed all their feathers during an annual molt, which the New Zealand penguin had been doing when found. Its sex had not been determined.

It was just the fourth time over the past 100 years that a royal penguin has been found on the North Island of New Zealand.

Jenny Boyne, who lives near Tora Beach where the penguin was found, said she drove it to the zoo in a fish crate after staff suggested she bring it in.

"It sat down like a little quiet lamb," she said.

The bird stood up briefly a couple of times and honked but generally lay still for the two-hour journey, she said. She blasted the air conditioning and spritzed the bird with water after zoo staff instructed her to keep it cool.

It had revived memories of another penguin, an emperor nicknamed Happy Feet, that arrived in 2011 and whose recovery at the zoo captured the hearts of many before he was released.