The penguin was taken to a nearby zoo, where it was found to be underweight but otherwise healthy
A pilot at the Wellington Airport in New Zealand spotted a baby penguin on the runway right before takeoff
The pilot and passengers waited while airport staff raced out to collect and help the penguin
The penguin was taken to the Wellington Zoo to get veterinary care
A baby penguin who tried to catch a ride home at an airport in New Zealand now is being cared for at a nearby zoo.
On Wednesday, the Wellington Airport in New Zealand told its Instagram followers about a baby blue penguin (also called a kororā) that was spotted by an Air Chathams pilot on the airport's runway just before takeoff on the afternoon of Jan. 12
"Found on the runway: a very unusual little visitor!" the caption of a carousel of photos featuring the 6-week-old penguin began.
"The pilot and passengers patiently waited while Wellington Airport staff raced out to collect and help the visitor," the post continued.
The airport staff took the lost animal to the Wellington Zoo to get veterinary care at a zoo section called "The Nest." "We’ve done some penguin proofing to our fences to keep our flippered friends out of trouble in future," the post added.
Wellington Airport’s Wildlife Officer Jack Howarth told PEOPLE in a statement that the penguin was in a "less-than-impressed mood."
“Our runway sensors were reading 50 degrees, so it is no wonder they were not particularly happy," Howarth said. “We were unsure how long they’d been exposed to the sun without shelter, so I thought it best to take him to The Nest at Wellington Zoo as they’ve helped us with recovery of other wildlife in the past. They happily took him in to cool down and monitor for any further issues."
“We think he may have wriggled under the fence so we’ve done some penguin proofing to keep our flippered friends out of trouble in future," the statement added. “It’s a very unusual occurrence and there’s no record of a penguin visiting us like this before.”
The Wellington Zoo also posted a video to Instagram on Wednesday of the penguin being cared for by a staff member at its temporary new home.
The zoo confirmed the animal's approximate age, and said that many blue penguins live in nests in a nearby area called Lyall Bay.
The young penguin, the zoo's post said, "probably got lost on the way home."
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After some bloodwork and x-rays, the animal was found to be a bit underweight but otherwise healthy. It's been put on a "weight gain diet with LOTS of yummy fish" to improve its weight.
"Well on the road to recovery, as soon as their feathers are waterproofed the Kororā will be ready for release back into the wild. 💙🌊," The Wellington Zoo's Instagram update ended.
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