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Who says penguins can't fly? Birds travel in cargo plane

October 7, 2008 | 12:47 pm


From the Associated Press:

SAO PAULO, Brazil — More than 370 penguins that mysteriously washed up on Brazil’s equatorial beaches were flown south on a huge air force cargo plane and released closer to the frigid waters they call home, animal advocates said Monday.

Onlookers cheered as the young Magellanic penguins were set free on a beach in southern Brazil and scampered into the ocean, the International Fund for Animal Welfare said in a statement. It called the penguin release the largest ever in South America. Home_at_last 

The penguins were among nearly 1,000 that have washed up on Brazil’s northeastern coast in recent months, said group spokesman Chris Cutter. About 20% of the penguins died and the rest were not healthy enough to send back.

The penguins, which had been kept at an animal rehabilitation center in the northeastern city of Salvador, were flown on an air force C130 turboprop plane, which is usually used for heavy military cargo, to southern Brazil and set free on Saturday. Experts hope a small group of older penguins released along with the young ones will help guide the group south to Patagonia.

Magellanic penguins breed in large colonies in southern Argentina and Chile and migrate as far north as southwest Brazil between March and September. Environmentalists say it is not known why the penguins were stranded so far north, but suggest they could have been carried beyond their usual range by a flow of warm water.

Photo: Associated Press/International Fund for Animal Welfare

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