Keepers are training the chicks so they can be hand-fed. Keeper Jose Altura has been conducting this training she said, “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.”
Currently the penguins are eight weeks old. They began training the penguins three weeks ago as Jose explained, “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.”
Some were fast learners others took longer, “Some of the chicks learnt faster than others, Spud was being hand-fed after only a few days,” explained Jose.
Currently the chicks still have their fluffy down coating but in the next few weeks this will be gone and they will have their waterproof feathers. This will mean they can splash and dive in their habitat at Taronga’s Great Southern Ocean’s exhibit.
Little penguins are classed as least concern by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature. They live around the South Australia from Perth around to Sydney. In Sydney they live at Mosman and Manly. They are Australia’s only penguin species.
A number of the chicks’ parents were injured in the wild and could not be returned there so now form part of the breeding program.
Taronga Zoo is running a Fish4Good Campaign that aims to support sustainable fishing. As half of the world’s people rely on sea food so they can eat making education on these issues important.
Penguins come underthreat from discared fishing lines and nets and not having enough food due to overfishing,
You can find out more about little penguins here – Little Penguins | The Animal Facts
Photo Credits: Taronga Zoo