Baffled Brazilians Rescue Wayward Penguins

Country's beachgoers grapple with invasion of cute birds from Argentina
By Katherine Thompson,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 3, 2008 11:15 AM CDT
More than 400 penguins, most of them young, have been found dead on the beaches of Rio de Janeiro state over the past two months.   (AP Photo/Ricardo Moraes)
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(Newser) – Every year a few Magellanic penguins, native to southern Argentina, accidentally make the 2,000-mile trip to the beaches of Brazil. But this year the influx is looking less like a wayward few and more like an invasion, with sunny beaches overrun by more than 1,000 exhausted and starved birds. Many Brazilians have leapt to their rescue, reports the Washington Post.

The penguins arrive emaciated, many with injuries, and lifeguards report that well-meaning beachgoers sometimes do them additional harm by assuming the birds want to be kept in ice-filled coolers. Rehabilitation centers are overrun, and some volunteers have taken overflow populations into their own homes. Though the cause of the migration remains a mystery, scientists point to changing ocean currents.