On April 17, Taronga Wildlife Hospital staff released five healthy Little Penguins into the sea after nursing them back to health in Sydney, Australia.
The birds arrived at Taronga from nearby beaches over the past two months. Injuries included dehydration, a fishing hook injury and a broken foot.
Photo Credit: Sarah Lievore
Taronga Wildlife Hospital manager Libby Hall said, “Most of the penguins were brought to Taronga Wildlife Hospital by members of the community who saw them in difficulty and took action. The community’s awareness of Little Penguins and other wildlife is increasing all the time and by acting quickly, they give us the best chance to help the birds through difficult times.”
The penguins were nicknamed by the Taronga Wildlife Hospital:
- Bondi, found on Bondi Beach
- Footsie, found in Newcastle on Stockton Beach
- Nigel, found Chowder Bay in Mosman
- Margaret, found in Maroubra
- Collin, found on Collins Beach in Manly
Penguins hunt for fish as they swim in the ocean. Little Penguins become vulnerable during their annual molt, when their waterproof feathers fall out in clumps. Until their new feathers grow in, they cannot enter the water to capture fish. Because the Penguins do not feed during the molting period, they become emaciated and weak so are vulnerable to domestic pets, most particularly dogs.
The colony of Little Penguins at Manly in Sydney Harbor is the last remaining on the mainland of New South Wales. This population is protected and numbers only about 60 pairs. Other nearby colonies are located on offshore islands, which offer the Penguins some protection from pressure from humans and domestic pets.
Little Penguins are found in habitats along Australia’s southern coast and on the shores of Tasmania. These birds are also present on the southern coast of New Zealand. Several colonies have declined over the past decades, mostly due to human interference and predation. They are listed as a species of Least Concern by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
People can help Little Penguins at beaches by keeping dogs on leashes, not leaving rubbish including fishing line hooks around and protecting habitat at the shoreline.
See more photos of the Penguin release below.