01 September 2014

Missing little penguin's sad fate discovered

Little penguins at Taronga Zoo.
Photo credit: L A Warden

AUSTRALIA – A call from the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) for information about a little penguin taken from Sydney’s Manly Wharf last week had a sad ending when it was revealed the bird had succumbed to its injuries over the weekend.

The distressed and injured little penguin was seen being put in a cardboard box on the east side of the wharf last Thursday, prompting NPWS to put out an appeal on Friday for information about where the troubled little bird had gone.

Ranger Mel Tyas, NPWS's Little Penguin Co-ordinator, said at the time that NPWS was extremely concerned for the bird’s plight and stressed it would need immediate help.

“The penguin was seen by a number of people who described it as having what appeared to be a chewed tail and was being attacked by birds on the east side of Manly,” she said.

NPWS has close connections with Taronga Zoo, WIRES and the Sydney Metropolitan Wildlife Service, and knew it had not been picked up by those agencies – which was troubling as the little bird would need specialist care.

“Little penguins are not like their Antarctic cousins and don’t like to be out in the cold – a sick Little Penguin really needs very specialist care if it is to be nurtured back to health,” Ms Tyas said.

The “well-meaning person” who took the penguin was urged to drop it off to Taronga Wildlife Hospital as soon as possible – even if it had died, which turned out to be the case.

Ms Tyas said it was disappointing that the bird did not survive, but NPWS would like to thank the community and media for all their assistance.

“The past few days have really shown how much Sydneysiders care about their little penguins,” she said.

“We now know that the bird had been attacked by a natural predator, possibly a small shark, when it was found and taken by a concerned local to a vet who unfortunately could not save it.

“We always feared it would not survive the injuries that it was reportedly carrying so while it is not surprising, it is always disappointing.

“NPWS will now collect the penguin so that it can be identified via its microchip and provided to Taronga Zoo for assessment.

“We are very lucky to have such an active and interested community working together to protect and report on the local little penguin population including the volunteer penguin wardens, Manly Council, local vets and many others in the community.

“I suppose this unfortunate incident highlights that if anyone finds a sick or injured penguin, put it in a box and keep it warm and notify NPWS or Taronga [Zoo] as soon as possible."

Sydney residents should report all sick and injured little penguins to NPWS duty officer on 9457 9577 in the first instance.

Sources
Missing little penguin did not survive its injuries, 1 September 2014, Office for Environment and Heritage
Not so Happy Feet missing, 29 August 2014, Office for Environment and Heritage

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