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Penguin at a New Zealand wildlife hospital Penguin at a New Zealand wildlife hospital

Endangered Penguins in Onesies and Survival of the Best Dressed

There is a new dress code for sick and injured endangered penguins at a New Zealand wildlife hospital - the latest in baby onesies.

Veterinary staff caring for some of the world's most endangered penguins have come up with a simple but novel solution to aid the recovery of their patients by dressing them in the practical all-in-one baby garment known as a onesie.

The onesie, it seems, is a good way to prevent the penguin patients from scratching or pecking at their wounds, and thereby allowing new feathers the chance to grow.

The innovative idea came about when wildlife hospital staff were faced with treating a juvenile yellow-eyed penguin with substantial feather damage.

“Just like any toddler the little one insisted on picking at his wounds, not allowing new feathers to grow,” said, Steve Walker, hospital trust chairman, Dunedin Wildlife.

The baby onesies provided the perfect solution preventing the penguin from damaging itself. Walker says the penguin fashionista in question, who is known as Plucky, is now convalescing at Penguin Place wildlife centre where he is something of a sensation with visitors lucky enough to catch a glimpse.

“It seems that babies of all species need bespoke wardrobe items and this little guy is now on the mend thanks to this snappy fashion choice,” Walker further added.

Inspired by the success of the idea, Dunedin Wildlife Hospital has put out a call to baby clothing manufacturers with the idea of creating specially designed penguin-themed onsies.

Dunedin is the wildlife capital of New Zealand, with many rare and endangered species inhabiting the surrounding area. Before the Dunedin Wildlife Hospital opened in early this year, injured yellow-eyed penguins were flown to the North Island and only had a 40-50 percent chance of survival. That survival rate has now risen to nearly 88 percent.