The excitement was great when a young African penguin went missing from Salzburg Zoo last Sunday morning. After a search operation lasting several hours, the animal was finally found in a cornfield. How the penguin could escape the facility and the grounds at night into the cornfield about 800 meters away, the zoo can not explain. Already in the fall of 2021, a penguin from the same zoo went missing for four days.
The three-month-old penguin had left only recently its breeding den. As zoo manager Sabine Grebner noted, they were informed on Sunday at 6:20 a.m. that a penguin had been seen in a nearby cornfield. “After all the African penguins had been in the facility the night before, we hadn’t noticed the loss yet,” Grabner said. “The only thing we know is that it was another juvenile, otherwise we are completely in the dark. But we will immediately start looking for clues and consider further measures if necessary.”
Difficult search in a corn field
However, an initial search for the penguin with some zoo employees had proved to be a “search for a needle in a haystack” in the densely overgrown cornfields. Since the use of a drone with a thermal imaging camera also brought no success, the search team was reinforced. The cornfields were combed closely using a human chain.
After a search operation lasting about three hours, relief finally followed: the penguin was spotted and captured by district manager Andreas Gfrerer. “We absolutely cannot explain this. There are several fences and other obstacles between the penguin facility and the place where it was found, and penguins are known to be better swimmers than pedestrians,” Gfrerer concluded.
Heiner Kubny, PolarJournal
Website: Salzburg Zoo