Happy Feet for Rescued Penguin

14 December 2020

A Little penguin from St Kilda has been safely released back to join his colony following its rescue and rehabilitation at Melbourne Zoo.

The penguin was collected by Melbourne Zoo’s Marine Response Unit (MRU) last month after a member of the public reported it behaving unusually at St Kilda beach.

"We received a call from a member of the public who alerted us to a Little penguin that looked disoriented and vulnerable at St Kilda in the middle of the day - which is not normal behaviour for a penguin,” said MRU keeper Maddi Chambers. 

"Luckily, we were able to head down there pretty quickly and bring the penguin in for a clinical assessment and examination.”

Melbourne Zoo veterinarian Chris Cheng said her team diagnosed the penguin as malnourished and underweight.

“It came to the zoo and had clinical examinations and we found that it had a very heavy parasite burden and it was very thin as well,” said Dr Cheng. 

“Those are things that are not great for penguins in the wild and we’ve been treating it supportively here to try and get it back on the right track to recovery.”


Dr Cheng performed a gastroscopy on the penguin, which uses an endoscope to look at the lining of the stomach and digestive tract.

“There was some previous ulceration of the stomach which is most likely caused by a burden of parasites that were there, which we’ve since treated,” said Dr Cheng. “But the stomach now appears to be healing well.”

Following the success of the procedure, the Melbourne Zoo veterinary team brought the little penguin back to health over three weeks before releasing it back into the wild late last week. 

In coordination with Earthcare St Kilda, the penguin was released safely on the St Kilda breakwater and embraced by some fellow waddlers, after a few tentative steps.

The penguin will continue to be monitored by Earthcare St Kilda and Melbourne Zoo’s Marine Response Unit through the implant of a microchip. 

Anyone who sees a marine animal in need of help is asked to call Melbourne Zoo’s Marine Response Unit on 1300 245 678.