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Photo by Paul Fahy
Libby Hall releases the Little Penguin

A young Little Penguin was released back into the wild after being rescued from a stormwater drain in Sydney’s inner-west, Environment Minister Mark Speakman said today.

The penguin was released into the water off Collins Flat Beach in Manly as part of a joint Taronga Zoo and NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service operation.

“This young penguin has had quite a journey, so it was fantastic to see it wet its wings in the ocean again today. Little Penguins at Manly are protected as an endangered population, so every penguin in the colony is incredibly important,” Mr Speakman said.

The penguin, thought to be as young as 10 weeks old, was rescued by RSPCA NSW inspectors and taken to Taronga Wildlife Hospital exhausted and dehydrated on 1 December.

The penguin spent fours day in intensive care, before moving into one of the hospital’s rehabilitation pools to continue its recovery. It was given fluids and then started on small amounts of food, gaining 200 grams to weigh a healthy 950 grams, on release.

Taronga Wildlife Hospital Manager Libby Hall said the penguin was feisty and swimming strongly in the rehabilitation pool, indicating it was ready to return to the wild.

“We nicknamed the penguin, Holly, as it’s returning home in time for Christmas. It looked fantastic and alert in the water and we hope it grows up to be a strong adult penguin,” Ms Hall said.

NPWS, with the help of Little Penguin Wardens and the local Police each breeding season, keep the Little Penguin colony at Manly under close watch.

A network of monitoring cameras keeps track of the penguins’ movements and alerts NPWS rangers and field officers of any predators such as foxes and domestic dogs that could pose a threat to the colony, which is the last on the NSW mainland. Other measures undertaken to protect the penguins included checking known burrows in the lead up and during the breeding season, fox baiting and deploying fox detection dogs.

There has not been a recorded predation on the Little Penguins this year at North Head.

“These measures are put in place each year and will go a long way towards ensuring the colony remains viable into the future. People can also do their bit to help Little Penguins by keeping dogs on leashes, not leaving rubbish behind at the beach and protecting plants and trees along the shore,” Mr Speakman said.

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