A Little Penguin from the famous colony at Manly was released back into the wild today after being treated at the Taronga Wildlife Hospital for wounds probably caused by marine debris.
The Little Penguin, named Bella, was released by Taronga Wildlife Hospital Manager Libby Hall, Sydney Harbour National park Ranger, Melanie Tyas, and volunteer penguin wardens off Store Beach.
It was imperative that Bella be released close to this location as her mate, Lucky, has been seen swimming nearby at twilight looking for her. Little Penguins usually mate for life and as it is breeding season it was important to get the two love-birds back together.
A second male penguin was also released back into waters off Store Beach after becoming seriously underweight during moulting.
Libby said: “The endangered colony of Little Penguins at Manly is tiny. There is a team of dedicated penguin wardens who keep watch over the birds during the breeding season to protect them. Every Little Penguin in this colony is very important.”
Bella was brought to the Taronga Wildlife Hospital by National Parks and Wildlife Service volunteer wardens with severe injuries to her left leg consistent with marine debris.
Her mate Lucky was found entangled in fishing line a few years ago and had to be freed.
NPWS ranger Mel said the endangered colony of little penguins was extremely fragile living in the middle of Australia’s busiest city.
Mel said: “The breeding success of the population over the last five years is testament to how much Sydney-siders care about these beautiful birds. The Harbour is busier than usual over Christmas and summer and the penguins are at their most vulnerable as many of them are moulting. We’re asking everyone to remember our Little Penguins are about and to help look after what really is a unique population in our city.”
Taronga Zoo and the NPWS urge people fishing this summer to properly dispose of all used fishing lines and hooks.
This year alone Taronga Wildlife Hospital has treated 30 Little Penguins and each year returns over 1000 birds, lizards and mammals to the wild.
Every year Taronga takes part in Project Penguin. Local school students learn about the local Manly Little Penguins, ultimately becoming youth ambassadors for the locally threatened species.