Adelaide Zoo

Little Penguin Hopper’s Big Journey Back to Health

Adelaide Zoo has welcomed a new feathered friend to the colony after a little plucky penguin was rescued from the wild.

Affectionately named Hopper by staff for their happy hops at dinnertime, the injured Little Penguin arrived at the zoo with wounds to their body and right eye.

Hopper was discovered at Basham Beach in Middleton by the Wildlife Welfare Organisation SA Inc. (WWO) and brought to the Adelaide Zoo Animal Health Centre for some FLC (feathered loving care).

Senior Keeper of Natives and Nature Theatre, Erin Turrell, said while the hope was for Hopper to return to the wild, unfortunately the damage to the eye was too severe.

“When Hopper arrived he was in pretty bad shape and we suspected a shark had caused the injuries to his body and eye,” she said.

Since arriving at Adelaide Zoo Hopper has been going from strength to strength – we’re so impressed by the progress. It took a little while to get Hopper used to hand-feeding but they now love their fish and have a healthy appetite.

Zoos SA’s hope for any injured animal from the wild that comes into our care is to rehabilitate them so they are able to be released – they are our favourite stories – but that isn’t always best for the animal.

“We had a specialist veterinary ophthalmologist look at Hopper’s eye to try and save it, but unfortunately, the severity of the damage means that he wouldn’t survive in the wild.

“While it is sad we won’t be able to release this time, Hopper will receive the best of care here at Adelaide Zoo and be welcomed with open flippers into the penguin family,” said Erin.

Hopper has now joined the Little Penguin colony in the old Children’s Zoo and has been happily swimming, diving and waddling with their new pals.

Also known as ‘fairy penguins’ as the smallest species of penguin in the world, the Little Penguin is found in the coastal waters of Australia and New Zealand.

Their colonies can range in number from just a couple of pairs to thousands.

While wild populations are currently stable, ocean pollution including fishing hooks, plastic waste and oil spills, as well as over fishing and habitat loss, is threatening numbers.

You can support our feathery fish-loving friends by take taking part in a Penguins In Person experience at Adelaide Zoo, where you will meet the colony full of playful penguin personalities.

By taking part in a Zoos SA’s animal experience, you are helping us raise awareness and valuable funds to safeguard species in the wild.