The Taronga Wildlife Hospital receives approximately 35 Little Penguins (Eudyptula minor) each year. We work closely with the Threatened Species Unit of the NSW Department of Environment, Climate Change and Water,as well as wildlife rehabilitation groups and local non-government organisations to monitor the health of the Sydney population of Little Penguins.
We receive penguins from up and down the NSW coast. They are admitted to the hospital with a variety of reasons – some are underweight and exhausted, some have been injured in dog attacks, others are ill. Some penguins are admitted during their annual moult. During the moult penguins cannot go in the water as they are not waterproof, and must stay on land. The moult lasts about a month and during this time, penguins are vulnerable to harassment by humans, domestic animals or predators.
Little Penguins that are successfully rehabilitated for release into the wild are given a unique identification microchip implant – this helps the Threatened Species Unit monitor their survival and movement. A Little Penguin brought to us in 2008 had been picked up by a White-bellied Sea-eagle on a Newcastle Beach. Unfortunately, this penguin could not be released due to the extent its injuries, but it remains as a breeding bird in the Taronga Zoo Little Penguin colony.