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Animal Welfare

The penguin lady of Auckland

Photographer Todd Henry documents 85 year old Sylvia Durrant as she cares for sick and injured penguins from her home in Campbell's Bay, Auckland.

This story contains graphic content and viewers discretion is advised.

New Zealand is home to many native birds species that are now under threat due to human presence, urban expansion, native bush devastation for farming and ocean degradation to cope with the growing population's need for food.

After Sylvia Durrant lost her husband she began caring for sick and injured birds, primarily penguins but also a range of other native NZ birds such as seagulls, hawks, owls and kereru (wood pigeons).  

The penguins that she cares for usually end up wandering around in the suburbs of Auckland's North Shore as the result of an injury or starvation. Sylvia is well established as the go-to person when someone finds a penguin in distress.  Sylvia and her volunteers spend many hours each day feeding, cleaning and caring for the penguins and other birds.

Todd Henry

At dawn each day the penguins are loaded up and taken to swim at the tide pools at the beach.  Sylvia usually has a helper as well as her specially trained penguin dog named Missy.  Missy helps keep the penguins in one place while also protecting them from other dogs that may be on the beach and would want to attack the penguins.

Sylvia has recently retired from taking care of the penguins, but her efforts have had a great impact on the penguins she cared for as well as the people in her community.

This project received a great deal of attention and helped Sylvia secure some further funding while she was still looking after the penguins.  It also brought awareness to the plight of penguins while also bringing attention to the sacrifices that people make to care for these animals.

Now it's your turn, keep the generosity wheel rolling

Please consider making a one-off or recurring donation to

The Fairshots Collective Pool

using the form below.

This story does not end here. Helping the

species of native New Zealand birds

will require your action too.

After sharing this story and helping spread awareness about their plight, you can:

-Support your local animal conservation fund with donations or volunteer work. Google "Animal conservation (insert your location)"

-Dispose of rubbish (trash) properly.

-Demand that your representatives create policies that respect animal rights.

-Eliminate single use plastic from your life.

-Reduce (or eliminate completely) your consumption of animal products.

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