Earlier this month, officials from EcoWorld Aquarium in Picton, New Zealand, discovered a single lonely egg near a penguin breeding ground, likely abandoned by its mother as an unseasonably high Spring Tide washed through the area days before. But although the egg was stone cold and seemed totally lifeless after so long without the warming presence of mom, aquarium staffer Kishan Kirkwood decided to try to save it anyways.
As it turns out, Kishan just so happens to live with an expert incubator -- his pet pigeon.
Evidently, it didn't take long before the undiscriminating pigeon welcomed the needy egg into her nest with open wings, happily taking on full-time egg-sitting duties to nurse that chilly baby penguin back to life. In fact, she seems to have taken on her job as surrogate mom with seriousness that by the time the egg hatched several days later, she couldn't quite figure out why it wasn't a pigeon that emerged -- but instead a little blue penguin chick.
"The pigeon kept sitting up and looking at the penguin, sitting down again, sitting up looking at it wondering what the [heck] . . . I guess," Kishan tells The Marlborough Express.
And with that, Rambo the little blue penguin made its unlikely entrance into the world.
Thankfully for the pigeon, perhaps, she won't be saddled with rearing the baby penguin into adulthood -- after all, the chick she helped hatch will grow to be around five times her size, and be more interested in fish and squid than breadcrumbs and birdseed. Instead, Rambo will be raised by the good folks at the EcoWorld Aquarium until he's old enough to rejoin his kind back into the wild.
Chances are that Kishan's kindly pet pigeon, with her world-class instincts to mother, will never again cross paths with the chick she helped rescue from the brink -- but with any luck, Rambo and his long-line of future offspring will stand as a testament to her gracious show of feathered solidarity.