Two of Sydney's resident Little Penguins will today be released back into the open ocean after rest and care at Taronga’s Wildlife Hospital.
Staff from the Zoo’s Hospital released the penguins at North Curl Curl after providing a safe haven for the two adults while they underwent their yearly moult. The pair waddled quickly across the beach before plunging back into the shallow waves.
The two adults were found at different beaches along the NSW coastline, with one of the penguins being found on Christmas Day by concerned members of the public, stranded in seaweed at Terrigal, while the other penguin was found almost two months later on Cronulla beach looking unwell.
Upon arriving at the Zoo, both penguins received a thorough vet check including x-rays, blood tests and worming medication. The penguins were later affectionately named ‘North’ and ‘South’ by Veterinary Nurses based on the locations where they were rescued from.
Veterinary Nurse, Amy Twentyman, said: “Both birds were in reasonable condition when they arrived at the hospital. Penguins come ashore during this time of year for their annual moult. During this time they stay clear of the water as they cannot swim as their feathers aren’t waterproof and they often appear unwell as their coats’ are dull.”
“North’s feathers were covered in algae, but we knew that within weeks these feathers would be replaced during moulting. We gave both penguins a safe haven away from the dangers of cats and dogs where they could replace their worn out feathers.”
Since their annual moult, the pair have undergone “Little Penguin boot camp” at Taronga’s rehabiltation pool, where they have been able to exercise and gain strength for today’s return to the water. The pair have become companions although North has a reputation amongst the nurses as being the boss.
The Taronga Zoo Wildlife Hospital treats about 30 penguins annually as well as about 1,500 other animals ranging from snakes and possums to echidnas and owls. Many of the animals are brought to the clinic by members of the public and wildlife rescue services.
Taronga has an excellent record of rehabilitating sea birds for release back into the wild, helping to maintain healthy populations. These also include Australian Gannets, Southern Giant Petrels and Albatross.
Taronga is committed to educating visitors about the importance of birds, the need to protect their habitat and the significance of taking care of their environment.
The Zoo's new Great Southern Oceans exhibit features a breeding group of 36 Little Penguins which can be seen through underwater viewing windows showing off their masterful aquatic skills as they plunge through the artifical current and wave surges. The Zoo also has the world's only breeding group of the endangered Fiordland Crested Penguin from New Zealand.
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