National Marine Week: this boot was made for waddling

It's National Marine Week from 10 to 16 October and it's not only uShaka Sea World staff and visitors who are celebrating this year.

Meet Chino, a juvenile African penguin (Spheniscus demersus) that was found virtually motionless, suffering from heatstroke and with a badly damaged leg on the beach at Kosi Bay, in early November 2015. The ailing bird was immediately ferried to uShaka Sea World for emergency veterinary care.

Animal behaviourists Leandra Paverd and Kelly de Klerk fit Chino's new boot. (Image: uShaka Sea World)

After six weeks in hospital, she was declared strong enough to join uShaka Sea World's resident penguin colony, and although she managed to keep up with the other penguins, the injury to her leg and resultant limp began causing this gallant lady some debilitating challenges.

Chino waddles around confidently in her customised boot. (Image: uShaka Sea World)

Senior animal behaviourist Kelly de Klerk was determined to find a solution and started searching for ideas on how she could assist Chino manage life a little easier. Kelly read about a Humboldt penguin named Lucky in Santa Barbara in the United States that had suffered a similar challenge, which he overcame by wearing a specially designed “boot”.

Excited at having found a possible solution, Kelly took Chino’s measurements and the design of Lucky’s boot to Leatherback, a local company specialising in the manufacture of footwear. They immediately accepted the challenge and set about creating Chino’s unique walking aid.

On 7 October her boot was fitted and she confidently waddled around the colony, much to the amazement of the other penguins.

If you would like to help the African penguin and contribute towards ocean health, visit www.penguinpromises for ideas on how, by making small changes to your lifestyle, you can contribute to a healthier world – for the sake of our endangered penguins and ourselves.

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