R2 later and back to penguin business

The coin removal took an hour.

A rehabilitated African penguin was released back into the wild last Thursday after having a R2 coin removed from its stomach.

The penguin was admitted to the SA National Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds (SANCCOB) as a chick from the Stony Point penguin colony in Betty’s Bay on Thursday June 22, with the help of CapeNature Penguin Rangers. It was in a poor condition and showed signs of mild feather loss.

Sanccob staff assessed the chick and admitted it to the facility’s chick-rearing unit.

The chick’s general condition improved, but a few weeks later, it started to regurgitate its fish. X-rays revealed it had a foreign object in its stomach.

“To our amazement, we quickly realised that it could only be a coin,” said Sanccob vet Dr David Roberts.

After efforts to pump the penguin’s stomach failed, an endoscope was used to retrieve the coin.

Dr Stephen van der Spuy, Sanccob’s executive director and a vet himself, operated the endoscope assisted by Dr Roberts and Christel Grobler, from Karl Storz Endoscopy.

“It was a tricky procedure that required adept manoeuvring of the device in order to safely and accurately remove the R2 coin from the penguin’s stomach.

The procedure took approximately one hour, and we were happy to recover the coin in the end,” said Dr Roberts.

The penguin quickly started eating well and gaining weight. Sanccob will now auction the R2 coin online to raise much-need funds for its rescue and rehabilitation work.