High hopes for endangered penguin bonding

·2-min read

Keepers hope a male penguin named Ed will make big moves after joining the world's only breeding program for his species at Taronga Zoo.

The Fiordland crested penguin has made his debut in Sydney after transferring from Melbourne Zoo, and is the first male to join the colony in 16 years.

The breeding program relies on rescued birds that have washed up on shore and can't return to the wild, and until recently it had only one male, Mr Munro.

"Ed being a rescue bird and being a male is so important because now we have two males and we have three females," senior marine mammal keeper Jo Walker said.

Ed has been seen taking swims with a young, healthy female named Dusky, and keepers are hopeful it's the beginning of a penguin flirtation.

"To our wonderful surprise Dusky and Ed, they're sort of really feeling each other out at the moment," Ms Walker said.

"I can't say that they absolutely have an undying love for each other at this point. However, Ed has been really busy building his nests in the burrow.

"He has been seen on several occasions picking up sticks, putting them in the nest. He's in there, and he's calling.

"They've been swimming together, hanging out together."

Keepers are on the lookout for Ed to take the next step and invite Dusky into his burrow.

Ed was introduced to two other females in his colony, Gari and Moeraki, but appeared focused on Dusky, Ms Walker said.

"We're really happy that he's more focused on Dusky. This is what we want."

Taronga is the only zoo in the world that has a breeding program for Fiordland crested penguins.

The penguins, which have a speckled orange beak and a bright sulphur crest swooping over their eye, are native to New Zealand.

They are some of the most endangered penguins on the planet, with fewer than 2500 to 3000 breeding species remaining.

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting