Penguin swims to New Zealand

An Emperor Penguin managed to swim 4,000 km from Antarctica to New Zealand. A woman found the penguin on Peka Peka Beach about 40 km north of Wellington last Monday. The last time an Emperor Penguin was found in New Zealand was in 1967 on a beach in Southland so this is very unusual. Many people have been watching the penguin on the beach but they were careful not to go too close.

Emperor Penguins live in Antarctica on the ice in temperatures as cold as -60 degrees Celsius. The temperature on Peka Peka Beach this week has been around 10 degrees. Emperor penguins eat snow if they get too warm or if they are stressed. This penguin started eating sand and bits of wood from the beach, perhaps thinking this was snow. By Friday, it started to look sick so it was taken to Wellington zoo, in a box of ice.

At the zoo, a vet x-rayed the penguin and found about 3kg of sand in its stomach. She washed out the penguin’s stomach but did not manage to get rid of all the sand. She said she will let the penguin rest and try again on Monday. It is very sick and may not survive.

The vet thinks this penguin is a young male, probably 10 months old because chicks are usually hatched in August or September. The young penguins leave the ice when they are a few months old and stay in the sea for four years before returning.

Emperor Penguins are the largest penguins and they live only in Antarctica. They can grow to 1.2m high and weigh about 40kg. This one weighs 27kg.

vet is short for a veterinarian, an animal doctor.
x-rayed is used as a verb here. The noun is x-ray. In English, nouns are often used as verbs.
get rid of – take it all away. To get rid of rubbish is to throw it away (in the bin)
survive – manage to stay alive
hatch – chick comes out of the egg

let the penguin rest – let + noun + verb e.g. let someone drive; make can be used the same way e.g. make someone drive

Simple present tense is used for facts, things that are true, e.g. eat snow, leave the ice, are the largest etc.

Why were people careful not to get too close to the penguin?
Do you think the penguin will swim away when it is well again?


  1. very good

  2. Y5 & 6 ESOL students, Avonhead School

    Some comments from my students- Very interesting to hear about the penguin. I think it’s sad what happened to him..

    We also looked at footage from the news and used a reader about Antarctic penguins.
    Lots of discussion about why the penguin came to NZ!!!!
    Thanks for your website.

  3. what happened on monday? I’m very sad.

    The penguin is still at the zoo. It has recovered and is waiting until it can be taken to an island near the Antarctic in the summer.

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