Savings gone amok? The annual penguin health checkup at the National Museum of Marine Biology & Aquarium was conducted with the help of X-ray equipment last year, but this year, Hengchun police were called upon to use their metal detectors to determine whether the penguins had swallowed any metal objects.
The assisting investigation criminal police officers gave a wry smile, saying the bird-brained mission was the dumbest they had encountered, and a veterinarian at the National Pingtung University of Science and Technology said the results would be limited.
A few days ago, two criminal investigation police officers from the Hengchun police precinct brought their metal detectors to the penguin area at the aquarium. With the help of aquarium staff, they conducted their first ever body search of a penguin.
The police officers said the situation felt as if the penguins had been at an ecstasy party and were being given strict individual body searches. They said the whole exercise painted a comical picture, but hoped it would help the penguins.
Tu Chieh-hsien, a veterinarian at the National Pingtung University of Science and Technology, stressed that, clinically speaking, metal detectors have been used to determine whether cows had swallowed metal objects, but that X-ray equipment was recommended for better accuracy when checking more delicate animals like penguins.
Kaohsiung veterinarians say the metal detectors used by police may not be sensitive enough to detect metal objects lodged deep inside a body, while X-ray equipment will detect metal objects as well as other foreign objects made of plastic or other materials that metal detectors will not see.
Critical museum staff said in private that the museum has not been well managed in recent years and that old structures and equipment were not renewed. They also said that by not wanting to spend money on X-ray examinations of the penguins in their vital annual health check but instead using metal detectors, Haijing Co, the company managing the museum, had gone too far in their attempts to save money.
A Haijing representative said that after the penguins were flown into Taiwan they had remained in the aquarium and had not had a chance to swallow any foreign objects. The company also says it hired an expert team to conduct X-ray exams last year to determine that everything was normal, but that an X-ray health check is very time consuming because the penguins need to be anesthetized. That was why the biology department suggested that the Hengchun police precinct be asked to help with their metal detectors this year in the spirit of serving the public. Huang Jung-shan, deputy chief of the Hengchun police, said that after Haijing approached him he consulted with the county police bureau and was told that, as long as it didn’t interfere with normal police work, there would be no harm in helping out for a couple of hours.(LIBERTY TIMES,TRANSLATED BY PERRY SVENSSON)