17 October 2015

Wellington Zoo takes the lead to help wild little blue penguins

NEW ZEALAND - Wellington Zoo and Forest & Bird’s Wellington Branch have joined forces on a targeted campaign to help protect the shy native birds that share our coastline – little blue penguins (also known as Kororā).

“Hundreds of Kororā call Wellington home, but lots of people don’t actually know about them or see them,” said Daniela Biaggio, Wellington Zoo Conservation Manager.

Dogs, however, can easily sniff out these strong smelling little birds – which can be bad news for little blue penguins, as research has shown that dogs off leash are one of the major threats to their survival.

“The Take the Lead campaign is about developing community awareness around Kororā and the dangers they face, so that we can better protect them. It’s really easy – all we ask is that people keep their dog on a lead around the coast. ”

The pilot campaign kicked off in May, ahead of the breeding season when the birds are at their most vulnerable.

“Our team visited veterinary centres, dog day care centres and cafés around Wellington’s south coast, speaking with vets and business owners about the campaign,” said Wellington Zoo Visitor Ranger Rebecca Diederichsen.

“We asked them to show their support for Kororā by displaying posters and fliers, and to spread the message with their clients and customers.”

Wellington Zoo cares for four rescued little blue penguins, who will move into a custom-designed habitat in the Zoo’s brand new precinct, Meet the Locals He Tuku Aroha, which opens to visitors on Labour Weekend. Their new home has been designed to evoke Wellington’s south coast, and visitors are able to learn about what makes these penguins unique.

Meet the Locals He Tuku Aroha celebrates New Zealand’s local wildlife and our amazing unique environment, and encourages visitors learn how they can play their part to save animals in the wild.

“At Wellington Zoo we partner with Forest & Bird’s Wellington Branch on the Places for Penguins project that provides safe nest boxes. This advocacy campaign is the next step of this project. We, along with other volunteers, also monitor the local penguin population,” said Daniela.

“We’re all working together to make sure Kororā thrive in our capital city.”

Wellington Zoo takes the lead to help wild Kororā, Wellington Zoo, 16 October 2015, Scoop.co.nz

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