Humans Step in to Translate for Little Blue Penguin at Christchurch Beach

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Billy likes the beach but dogs? Not so much. Jeff Mein Smith/Facebook

The world can be a scary place when you're young, It can be even scarier when you're a young little blue penguin, the tiniest of the penguin species.

Luckily, there are some humans willing to help. They stepped in to protect Billy, a blue penguin that appeared on a beach in Christchurch, New Zealand.

Spotted Nov. 29 at the slipway at Moncks Bay, near Sumner, in Christchurch, the little penguin immediately attracted a small crowd. Jeff Mein Smith saw the crowd while he was bicycling that afternoon, and he biked home to get his camera. When he returned to the scene, he found that the penguin had received a little sign, one that read "Hi, I'm waiting for my mum to come back. DOC (New Zealand's Department of Conservation) knows I'm here. Please leave me alone. Keep your dog away. Thanks, Billy the baby blue penguin."

Billy, perhaps able to read somehow, or just pleased by all the attention, didn't stray far from the sign, and some residents had set up "a little penguin protection patrol" to keep the penguin safe, Mein Smith told Stuff.

"Apparently some people let their dogs chase it initially."

Billy the baby blue penguin hunkers down on a Christchurch beach.
Billy the baby blue penguin hunkers down on a Christchurch beach. Jeff Mein Smtih/Facebook

The DOC arrived later that afternoon to pick up Billy, though they were surprised to see him on the beach at all.

"It's unusual for a blue penguin to be out in the open on the beach during the day. Normally they are at sea or in burrows during the day," Anita Spencer, a DOC senior ranger, told Stuff.

Billy, or perhaps Billie, was taken to the Christchurch Penguin Rehabilitation Center after being retrieved from the beach. According to a Facebook post from The Press, volunteers believe the bird may actually be a female penguin, is around 2 months old and is underweight for its age. The chick weighs a mere 550 grams, less than a standard basketball. A blue penguin should weigh around 900 grams at this age. Most little penguins grow up to weigh 1 kilogram.

The center will help the little penguin gain some weight by feeding it fish smoothies, salmon and anchovies before it's released back into the ocean.