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King penguin makes rare visit to South Australian beach

UPI
Researchers in Australia said a king penguin like the one pictured here made a rare visit to a beach in South Australia. File Photo by Bill Greenblatt/UPI

Jan. 30 (UPI) -- Researchers doing a survey of seabirds in South Australia came across an unusual discovery -- a king penguin hundreds of miles from home.

Jeff Campbell, president of Friends of Shorebirds South East, said the group was performing a survey of bird populations in the Coorong area when they encountered the king penguin north of Kingston South East.

"We were up high on the beach. We stopped and it kept on walking up towards us," Campbell told the Australian Broadcasting Corp.

"Then it did some displays towards us and then did its really strange braying calls, putting its head back and then bowing to us and then it came really, really close to us. We didn't go toward it; it came toward us."

Campbell theorized the penguin may have come to the beach to molt.

"I wouldn't be surprised if this bird has never seen a human before," he said.

Steve Jenkins was fishing in the area when he encountered the penguin.

"It walked down the beach to me while l was fishing and stayed a couple of hours until l left," he said.

South Australia's National Parks and Wildlife Service said officials are not currently concerned about the safety of the unusual visitor.

King penguins, the second-largest species of penguin, have only been seen in South Australia on two previous occasions, in 2004 and 1987.