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Fresh feathery faces on show at Melbourne Zoo

11 January 2019

If you have visited Wild Seas at Melbourne Zoo recently, you may have noticed some different and unusual beaks bobbing around the penguin pool.

Fiordland Penguins, Edward and Kim, arrived at Melbourne Zoo for assessment after they were both rescued within the same week by the zoo’s AGL Marine Response Unit.

Melbourne Zoo Wild Seas keeper Liz Liddicoat said both penguins had suffered trauma out in the ocean and were discovered in distress on different beaches on the Mornington Peninsula.

“Both penguins were quite lifeless and very malnourished when they were found on the beach,” Ms Liddicoat said.

“They were both quickly brought back to the veterinary department at Melbourne Zoo for life-saving treatment.”

After extensive monitoring and health assessments by Melbourne Zoo teams, as well as external specialists, it was decided, due to the extent of their injuries and ongoing complications that the penguins would remain at Melbourne Zoo.

Ms Liddicoat said both penguins had settled into their new home well, and had quite unique personalities.

“Ed, who can be identified by his twisted beak, is the really outgoing one. He loves coming up to us as soon as we come into the enclosure; it looks like he wants to give you a big hug. Kim’s a little more standoff-ish, she likes to do her own thing.”

A separate area within the Little Penguin enclosure was built specially for the Fiordland Penguins. This gives both species their own space if they want it, or they can choose to all hang out together.

“We were a bit worried about how the Little Penguins would receive their new housemates, but they’ve been great and have had some lovely beak-to-beak interactions and spend a lot of time swimming together.”

Fiordland Penguins breed only in New Zealand and Stewart Island and can swim up to a remarkable 7000kms in search of food. This is when they are sometimes found in Victorian waters.

The Fiordland Penguin population is rapidly declining. They are classified as Vulnerable by the IUCN, estimated to be as few as 2500-3000 breeding pairs left in the wild.

Threats to the Fiordland Penguin include introduced terrestrial predators, such as dogs and feral cats, as well as competition for resources with nearby fisheries, with their use of nets being of particular danger to the birds.

You can meet Edward and Kim at the penguin pool within Wild Seas at Melbourne Zoo, open every day of the year.