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Silver Lining for Rescued Little Penguin

Little Penguin

A little penguin found malnourished on the beach has been identified as one of the oldest penguins ever seen at the Phillip Island mega-colony.

Silver is 22 years old, more than three times the average life expectancy of a little penguin. The oldest documented penguin at Phillip Island was 25, and last seen in 2001. Silver was found wandering, in front of the Penguin Parade stands, at risk of being killed by a bird of prey. When rangers rescued her, they found she had a silver band around her flipper, an identification method that ceased in 2004. Since then, penguins have been microchipped.

Silver was first seen and originally banded in 2002 when she was around six weeks old. She was last seen by Phillip Island Nature Parks rangers in 2007.

Silver was taken to the Phillip Island Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre for assessment. She was found to be a post moult penguin who was struggling after fasting for three weeks and did not have enough energy to swim for more food. After slowly putting on weight, Silver was swim tested and found to be fully waterproof. At the Wildlife Clinic, little penguins must be able to swim for three hours and still have dry feathers to be considered ready for release back into the wild. After five weeks Silver had a final weigh-in, feed, and swim in the rehabilitation pool, and was ready for release on the beach where she was found. Silver was successfully returned to the ocean over the Easter break. Despite her age, rangers say Silver is well equipped to continue her life in the wild, having already defied the odds and outlived tens of thousands of other penguins.

Phillip Island Nature Parks Research Officer Paula Wasiak said:

The sad reality of nature is that most penguins don’t survive their first year of life. When we first met Silver back in 2002, she weighed more than a kilo at six weeks of age. Being so well fed served her well in the wild, and Silver is obviously tenacious. The best place for her to be is out with the colony at sea.

Background

The Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre opened in 2011 and is funded through Phillip Island Nature Parks ecotourism activities and the Penguin Foundation adopt a penguin program.

penguinfoundation.org.au

Each year the Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre responds to between 1500 and 2000 calls relating to injured wildlife and provides rescue, care and rehabilitation to up to 600 native animals, including approximately 64 little penguins and 54 other seabirds each year.

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