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Getting involved with the Hoiho!

Blis Probiotics used to treat Yellow Eyed Penguins

We loved getting involved with the Hoiho penguins. A really important species for Dunedin and New Zealand.

South African yellow-eyed penguin specialist Dr Lisa Argilla has spent the past two months spearheading the temporary Hoiho Hospital at the OtagoPolytechnic School of Veterinary Nursing in Dunedin. Fifteen yellow-eyed penguins, two Fiordland Crested penguins and one Snares crested penguin have been treated by Dr Argilla and a group of volunteers so far.

Blis Technologies has teamed up with the Department of Conservation to fight the Corynebacterium bacteria outbreak which is decimating the fragile yellow-eyed penguin population on the Otago coast.

During the summer of 2015-16, the Department of Conservation began working with Dunedin-based Blis Technologies to treat penguins with the same probiotics the company puts into throat lozenges for humans. Blis medicine was sprayed into the mouths of infected chicks every two days.

While the trial did not eradicate the bacteria, chicks who received the treatment put on half a kilo more than chicks who did not. The extra weight allows the chicks to survive and breed healthier offspring.

The Department of Conservation intends to develop a prevention plan to treat chicks with the Blis probiotics before the ulcers appeared.

Blis Technologies chief technology officer Dr John Hale said while the product had not been designed to treat animals, he was pleased it helped.

Read more with Fighting the good penguin fight (Otago Daily Times, 11 May 2017).

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