Penguins make 900km Sydney trip in search of romance: 'All they want to do'

Love is on ice for a dozen penguins who’ve made the journey from Melbourne to Sydney in the search for romance.

As part of a breeding programme, four King Penguins and eight Gentoo Penguins have been transferred from the SEA LIFE Melbourne Aquarium to the Sydney facility nearly 900km away by road.

“It is love on the road,” Laura Simmons, Regional Curator for Australia and New Zealand SEA LIFE, told Yahoo News Australia.

“We manage the population to ensure the right pairs are together, the right age groups are together and the right size of the colonies are together, so this is just a part of our population management plan.”

Penguins on ice (left) and two workers carry a crate into the penguin exhibit (right)
The dozen penguins were trained to voluntarily walk onto their crates. Source: SEA LIFE

The adorable dozen made the 12-hour journey from Melbourne to the harbour city on Tuesday in carefully packed crates which they had been trained to voluntarily step into.

They were then loaded inside an 18-wheeler freezer truck.

“As the second largest penguin species in the world, our King Penguins are one metre tall, so the crates had to be tall enough for them to stand up,” SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium Penguin Supervisor Laetitia Hannan told Yahoo News Australia.

“Then under the astroturf, we actually had some ice packs just to keep their feet nice and cool.

A freezer truck (left) and the crates inside the truck (right)
The penguins were transported in an 18-wheeler freezer truck inside large crates. Source: SEA LIFE

“These birds are designed to be in a six-degree exhibit all year round.”

A veterinarian and SEA LIFE’s head penguin keeper were called in for the trip, which was the first penguin transfer in six years and had been timed to coincide with the more Antarctic winter temperatures.

After a health check in Sydney, the colony was taken straight onto the ice to settle in for the night before meeting their new mates the next day.

The penguins are released from their crates (left) and a penguin on ice (right)
The penguins were quick to settle in to their new colony in Sydney. Source: SEA LIFE

The experts at SEA LIFE don’t think it will take too long for their interstate match-making service to come to fruition.

“Penguins, essentially all they want to do is be with other penguins, it’s their main goal in life to be surrounded by other penguins,” Ms Hannan said.

“We have carefully selected these animals because they are genetically viable for our population.”

“It's not super important if they choose who they want to choose, but we are hoping to see a few partnerships blossom and our breeding program thrive.”

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