The question of captivity
As an endemic species the hoiho is fully protected under the Wildlife Act 1953. Whilst the Trust supports rehabilitation and surgery for injured and sick birds there are a number of limitations with captivity of wild penguins:
- Long-term captivity is not an appropriate solution for a long-ranging, long-lived animal.
- Behavioural traits that are learned or culturally transmitted may be lost in captivity.
- Species may become progressively adapted to captivity and may be incapable of producing viable wild populations; domestication may be rapid.
- There is an increased risk of disease in captivity which may then be introduced into wild populations.
- Costs associated with captive breeding programmes are massive.
- As the marine environment is unable to sustain birds in some years, there is little point in raising populations for release into a system that cannot support and provide for them.
The Trust believes that captive populations of hoiho are not necessary at this time because it is preferable to maintain fully functioning wild populations of this species.