Inspirational penguin beats the odds to become a dad at Melbourne Zoo

01 October 2019

Everyone loves an underdog story, but how about one about a Little Penguin? A determined Little Penguin, whose life was saved by Melbourne Zoo’s Marine Response Unit after losing a flipper, has beaten the odds and welcomed a baby penguin into the world.

Nauj, the Little Penguin, at the Wild Sea precinct at Melbourne Zoo
Nauj, the Little Penguin, at the Wild Sea precinct at Melbourne Zoo

Father, Nauj, has been doing a wonderful job nurturing his newborn penguin with the support of zookeepers at the Zoo’s Wild Sea precinct.

It’s an incredible story of persistence for the dogged penguin dad, who underwent extensive rehabilitation and training with Zoo staff over the past two years just to learn how to swim again with one flipper.

Melbourne Zoo Wild Sea Keeper Beth Geraldene said Nauj was first spotted on St Kilda beach back in 2017.

“Nauj was attended to by Melbourne Zoo’s Marine Response Unit and was later taken to Melbourne Zoo’s veterinary hospital for treatment,” Ms Geraldene said.

“Vets found that due to his unfortunate injury, he wouldn’t be able to fend for himself and chase fish in the wild. So he required ongoing care and support at the zoo.”

However thanks to some dedicated keepers, and Nauj’s steely determination and a never-give-up attitude, he now swims confidently and displays a full range of natural behaviours – including some great parenting skills.

It’s an incredible story of persistence for the dogged penguin dad, who underwent extensive rehabilitation and training with Zoo staff over the past two years just to learn how to swim again with one flipper.

“Nauj is doing quite well as a new dad,” Ms Geraldene said. “Early on he relied on his partner to do a bit more of the feeding and more of the guarding of the chick. But as time has progressed we’ve seen him do a lot more feeding and become really attentive.”

Ms Geraldene said visitors could now see Nauj and his baby penguin together on display at Melbourne Zoo.

“When the baby penguin first hatched in August, it was very small and could fit into the palm of your hand,” she said.

“Like all young Little Penguins, the chick has grown quickly and now weighs a full kilogram. It has also shed its fluffy grey coat and has beautiful blue and white adult feathers.”

Nauj with his partner and baby chick at Melbourne Zoo
Nauj with his partner and baby chick at Melbourne Zoo

Little Penguins are native to Australia and are the smallest species of penguin in the world. The penguins at Melbourne Zoo play an important role in educating the public about the health of the marine environment and inspiring people to protect it.

Victorians that see injured or distressed marine wildlife are encouraged to contact the Melbourne Zoo Marine Response Unit (MRU) on 1300 245 678.