Securing a shared future for wildlife and people

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Madeleine Smitham
16 happy feet

Taronga’s successful Little Penguin breeding program has had 8 penguin chicks hatch this season.

The penguins are now eight weeks old and while a few of them still have the fluffy feathers of a juvenile, in a few days the down will be gone and they’ll be ready to splash and dive in the waters of the Great Southern Ocean exhibit with the adult penguins.

In preparation for this transition, Keeper Jose Altura has been teaching the chicks to be hand-fed.
“The parents raise the chicks until they are five weeks old then we spend three weeks training them to take pilchard and other small fish from us.

“We’ve taught them to come running after us when we ring a bell for the food. This training is important as we need to do daily roll calls and health checks. Having the penguins comfortable around us is essential,” said Jose.

“Some of the chicks learnt faster than others, Spud was being hand-fed after only a few days,” said Jose.

Many of these chicks’ parents have come through the Taronga Wildlife Hospital with injuries that meant they were unable to be returned to the wild.

Little Penguins are the only penguin species native to Australia, and can be found around Southern Australia from Perth to Coffs Harbour and are seen on many of Sydney’s beaches in the Mosman and Manly areas.

Threats in the wild include marine debris like discarded fishing lines and nets, and the reduction of their food through unsustainable overfishing.

Taronga’s Fish4Good campaign aims to promote and support certified sustainable fisheries. Seafood is relied on by half of the world’s seven billion people for some part of their diet and nutrition, so educating the community about this issue is paramount.

Taronga encourages shoppers to look for seafood that has the MSC certified Blue Tick to ensure a sustainable ocean future for people and marine life.

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