Education & School Fundraising
Kids raising big funds to help little penguins at Ringwood North PS
Little penguin fundraiser initiated by 8 year old student at O'Connor Cooperative School
Students try their hand at knitting penguin woolies
Funding, Sponsors & Partners
Knit to Win with Spotlight, AAT Kings and Phillip Island Nature Parks
Disney Interactive Australia & New Zealand and Club Penguin
Ecobud visit us from Malaysia
Bank of Melbourne takes kids on an animated little penguin adventure!
Evelyn's letter to Ambassador Kylie Minogue
The Wildlife Clinic, supported by your contributions to the Penguin Foundation, was busy during autumn with dedicated staff treating 13 little penguins, three kookaburras, two pelicans, a peregrine falcon, two brown goshawks and several other bird species, as well as native mammals such as wallabies and possums.
'Exercise Pinguino', a series of training events designed to enhance Phillip Island Nature Parks’ staff and volunteer capabilities in responding to a marine pollution event, and funded by the Penguin Foundation, began in late November 2013. The first training session saw over 70 participants from land management, wildlife and emergency response agencies meet for a round-table discussion on wildlife emergency response, media and business continuity strategies in the event of an oil spill.
For Phase 2, held in May, over 70 participants completed a field training exercise to test oiled wildlife response capabilities. It involved a simulated field exercise that tested the activation of volunteer networks, Phillip Island Nature Parks Wildlife Clinic operations and business continuity plans in a mock oil spill scenario using model penguins. Participants rescued fake oiled penguins from several beaches across Summerland Peninsula and then enacted rehabilitation techniques, including penguin washing, to be used in the event of a real oil spill. The training was designed to activate and assess the Nature Parks’ Oil Spill Contingency Plan and will assist in further improving and developing oiled wildlife response procedures.
Little penguin breeding season 2013
Little penguin breeding success for the last breeding season was lower than in previous years, The average laying date for the first clutch of eggs was September 27 and the season ended with 0.6 chicks fledged per breeding pair of penguins.
School students from Melbourne to Massachusetts have been learning how to knit, creating little penguin jumpers in all colours of the rainbow to help our little penguins.
Grandparents, aunts and uncles spent a day at school with Strathcona Girls’ Grammar School students passing down the art of knitting, while Shelford Girls’ Grammar in Caulfield started a ‘Yarning@Shelford’ program to switch students’ attention from smart-phones to knitting needles during their lunch breaks and encourage interaction between classmates and teachers. Year 1 students at Northeast Elementary School in Massachusetts learned about little penguins through craft and across the Atlantic, Year 3 students at Lennen Bilingual School in Paris raised $850 at a recent fundraising event, with each student receiving a Penguin Pal for their fantastic efforts.
Thank you to all schools and students who have supported the little penguins through Knits for Nature!
Evelyn's brilliant fundraising efforts and letter to Kylie Minogue
Evelyn is almost six years old and lives in the UK. Evelyn recently sent us this letter, addressed to her idol and Penguin Foundation Ambassador, Kylie Minogue, and outlined her fundraising efforts. Gorgeous.
"Hello Kylie Minogue, I would like to save the penguins. I am nearly six years old and I decided to balance a cup on my head for nearly 2 minutes. I have raised £15.52p to help the penguins. Please go back to The Voice! Love from Evelyn Marie."
The Penguin Foundation recently received a grant from the Ian Potter Foundation to support the Phillip Island Fox Eradication Program carried out by Phillip Island Nature Parks Environment department.
The five year project aims to preserve Phillip Island's biodiversity by removing these introduced pest mammals through the implementation of control techniques such as trapping, migration prevention and using trained dogs who recently arrived on the island for duty. One fox can kill up to 40 penguins a night.
The Ian Potter Foundation is one of Australia’s major philanthropic foundations. The Foundation makes grants nationally to support charitable organisations working to benefit the community across a wide range of sectors including the arts, environment, science, medical research, education and community wellbeing. The Ian Potter Foundation aims to support and promote a healthy, vibrant and equitable community for the benefit of all Australians.
New Penguin Foundation Ambassador, Club Penguin's Chattabox, joins the party!
We welcome our newest Penguin Foundation Ambassador, Disney Club Penguin's most popular party penguin, Chattabox. Chattabox is the official ambassador for Club Penguin Australia and New Zealand and provides Disney Club Penguin Members with weekly virtual parties on her Chattablog. If there's a Club Penguin fan in your family, they can join in the Chattablog here. "As a penguin enthusiast I care a lot about the protection of my little penguin pals at Phillip Island so I’m super excited to be a part of this amazing foundation. Waddle on Flippered Friends!" Chattabox joins the likes of The Wiggles and Dr David Suzuki who support the little penguins of Phillip Island.
Alfred knits his first penguin jumper at 107 years young!
A special thank you to Alfred Date of Umina Beach, NSW, who at 107 years young knitted his first little penguin jumper! Alfred loves to knit and his daughter, grand-daughter and great grand-daughter are now all avid knitters thanks to Alfred passing on his skills. We were thrilled to receive Alfred’s work and share it with you.
Ambassadors Peter Siddle and Anna Weatherlake visit us the little penguins
Australian Cricketer, Peter Siddle, and partner Anna Weatherlake, recently visited us and the little penguins they have chosen to support. Peter and Anna spent the afternoon learning about conservation efforts, enjoyed building a penguin nesting box and of course stayed into the evening to watch their favourite birds arrive ashore at the Penguin Parade. Discover why Sids and Anna chose to become Penguin Foundation Ambassadors here.
A quest by Australian and Spanish scientists to discover the true diet of marine predators is now one step closer after a recent study partially funded by the Penguin Foundation. Dr Andre Chiaradia of Phillip Island Nature Parks and Spanish researchers found that combining two state-of-the-art techniques, stable isotope and DNA analysis, instead of using each individually, provided a more precise analysis of prey species digested and what elements of the diet have been assimilated into the blood stream.
These results have important implications for Phillip Island’s little penguins and for the team of researchers at Phillip Island Nature Parks whose knowledge underpins conservation management decisions.
“Protecting marine species often involves protecting their food stocks. If we don’t understand exactly what top marine predators are consuming then we may be misdirecting our conservation efforts,” said Dr Chiaradia. Read more.
A warm thank you to all the kind knitters who have contributed to the Knits for Nature program so far. Your time and efforts are greatly appreciated and valued by all here who work closely with these special little birds! Please note - given the number of jumpers donated recently, we do not require any more at this time.
Knits for Nature is an ongoing program that begun after a number of oil spills near Phillip Island in the late 1990s to early 2000s. Volunteers donate knitted little penguin jumpers which may be used in the process of oiled little penguin rescue and rehabilitation. Little penguin jumpers also support little penguin conservation on Phillip Island through fundraising and education.
On March 6, a story about 95 year old knitter, Merle Davenport, featured in a local community newspaper and was picked up by Melbourne's ABC 774 radio station and published online. Within the blink of an eye Merle's story was circulated by major media networks across the world and shared, liked and tweeted on social media. The little penguins and their woolly jumpers became a viral sensation featured by major media networks in Australia and across the globe, including Sunrise TV, Woman’s Day, TIME Magazine, Buzzfeed, USA Today and Oprah's 'O Magazine' as well as hundreds of others.
We are completely amazed and overwhelmed by the amount and level of support from kind and generous people everywhere through email, social media and the little jumpers that still arrive daily. As mentioned, we have a great stockpile of jumpers and don’t require any more but thank you all for your support. Click here for further information.
Learn with Play at Home partake in play based learning activities at Phillip Island
Teacher and play-based learning blogger from ‘Learn with Play at Home’, Deborah Alter-Rasche and her young family, visited us and the Phillip Island Nature Parks Penguin Parade recently. Learn with Play at Home provides play-based learning ideas and activities for kids and has provided a cute paper plate penguin craft for children to create while learning about little penguins and conservation efforts here on Phillip Island. See their visit and download a cute little penguin craft here.
By Phillip Island Nature Parks
It's a pastime usually reserved for insomniacs and sheep, but biologists have taken it one step further with 40 plus years of penguin counting at the world-famous penguin colony on Phillip Island, and their results are having important implications for conservation.
With an estimated 32,000 breeding penguins at the Phillip Island colony, counting penguins is far from lulling the researchers to sleep. Just ask Dr Duncan Sutherland, penguin biologist at Phillip Island Nature Parks and lead author on a study about estimating population trends recently published in the journal Biodiversity and Conservation.
"Little penguins aren't the easiest animal to count given they come ashore at night, live in burrows on land and spend most of their time at sea, but accurately knowing the population size and any changes has a critical impact on what we do to protect the species."
Three counting methods have been employed over the last 30 years, with the most regular being the nightly count conducted at the Penguin Parade as the birds cross the beach - nothing more than a ranger with decent arithmetic and a pair of binoculars. An average of 572 penguins crossed the Penguin Parade beach during the Parade each evening from 1984 to 2011.
Other methods of estimating penguin numbers, however, are far more sophisticated and include GPS mapping of burrows and demographic modelling based on survival and recruitment.
"The Penguin Parade only accounts for 10 per cent of the colony and the nightly beach count isn't a reliable estimate of trends in the entire colony," Duncan explains.
"To get a more accurate picture we’ve conducted 13 colony-wide surveys in eight separate years to estimate burrow density and burrow occupancy rates, and we've done modelling based on survival and recruitment rates measured at three sites each year."
And it has been good news for Phillip Island's most famous residents with trends indicating a doubling of the population from 1984 to 2011, coinciding with the Summerland Housing Estate Buyback Scheme by the Victoria Government and an expansion of habitat. The scheme was initiated in the mid-1980s following concern about penguin mortalities due to pets, foxes, fire and habitat destruction. More than 180 buildings were removed from the penguin colony in a 30 year period.
It hasn't all been smooth swimming for the seabirds though, with a mass pilchard mortality in the mid-1990s resulting in a substantial decline in the penguin population in 1995 and 1997 and poor breeding performance.
"Knowing the population trends is vital to protecting this colony," Duncan says.
"Historically, 10 penguin colonies existed on Phillip Island but in the last 100 years predation by dogs, foxes and cats, and habitat loss from urbanisation and agriculture, wiped out nine of those colonies. The Summerland Peninsula colony, including the Penguin Parade, is the last remaining population of penguins on the island. Although it’s one of the largest in Australia, things like food availability and predation can still have a dramatic impact."
Spotlight, AAT Kings and Phillip Island Nature Park’s 'Knit to Win' little penguin jumper competition was created to raise awareness of penguin conservation and encourage Australians to support our little penguins. As most of you know, little penguin jumpers play an important role in saving little penguins affected by oil pollution, preventing them from preening and swallowing toxic oil. Entrants were asked to knit a creative and unique little penguin jumper and we received some fantastic entries! Congratulations to first prize winner, Chantal Cordey, and runners up Denise Franklin, Sue Arnold, Sylvia van der Peet, Lanie Wilkins and Monica Novak. See each penguin jumper in detail on our facebook page here.
Gold Penguin Foundation sponsors, Disney Interactive Australia and New Zealand, provides both financial and in-kind support to promote awareness for various Penguin Foundation research and environment projects and activities. This Summer saw Disney's Club Penguin, the number-one virtual world for kids, run a treasure hunt throughout the Penguin Parade boardwalks with Club Penguin prizes to be won. The event was enjoyed by hundreds of kids while they waited for the real-life penguins to waddle up from the beach!
She may be 95 years of age, but don’t let grandmother Merle Davenport pull the wool over your eyes – she's a powerhouse knitter with over 1000 penguin jumpers under her belt.
Since the late 1990s Merle Davenport has been knitting jumpers for Phillip Island’s most famous residents (the penguins, not the Hemsworths…) and in 15 years has managed to rib, garter and purl her way through 1000 fancy designs for her feathered friends. Merle has helped countless penguins with her knitting skills and her chic and timeless designs are a hit in fundraising and helping penguins affected by oil spills.
Merle took up the penguin jumper knitting crusade after reports of an oil spill affecting Phillip Island’s famous little penguins in 1998. A patch of oil the size of an adult’s thumbnail can kill a little penguin. The oil separates the feathers, allowing water to get in and causing penguins to become cold, heavy and less able to successfully hunt for food.
Over the years Merle has sent the jumpers to the Penguin Foundation, a charity dedicated to raising funds for conservation, research and the care of sick or injured penguins on Phillip Island.
"The small woollen jumpers are placed on the birds to keep them warm and prevent them from preening their feathers and swallowing the toxic oil," explains Lauren Jones of the Penguin Foundation.
Jumpers arrive from keen knitters across the world and those not suitable for rehabilitation use (too loose or the wrong type of wool) are sold on toy penguins with all proceeds going to the Penguin Foundation.
Major Sponsor, Bank of Melbourne, has developed a gorgeous animated cinema advertisement to promote their Incentive Saver Accounts which include a little penguin adoption. The Bank of Melbourne advertisement will debut on cinema screens across Victoria on Boxing Day, one of the busiest days of the year for moviegoers. Among the films opening that day are Disney's Frozen, Ben Stiller's The Secret Life of Walter Mitty and Peter Jackson's blockbuster The Hobbit. Watch it here.
Can't bear to face the Christmas shopping crowds, the assault of carols at every turn or the sacchrine smiles of service staff who haven't seen daylight in days? The solution is simple - give 'em the bird!
Adopt-a-penguin for your friends, family and that hard to buy for cousin and you'll not only avoid a case of 'silly seasonsitis', but all proceeds go the the Penguin Foundation and penguin conservation, research and wildlife rescue on Phillip Island.
Give 'em the bird and there'll be no need to suffer through Jingle Bells at the shopping centre at 1am while you fight for the last shortbread hamper for Aunty Betty and Uncle Harry. Just give 'em the bird.
Each adopt-a-penguin gift includes a personalised thank you card, adoption certificate and factsheet, e-newsletter updates from the penguin colony, one entry voucher to the world famous Penguin Parade and invitation to a member's only Open Day.
Give 'em the bird for Christmas today!
Please order before Sunday December 15 (domestic) and Friday December 6 (international) for postal delivery before Christmas.
'Exercise Pinguino', a series of training events design to enhance Phillip Island Nature Parks' staff and volunteer capabilities in responding to a marine pollution event, and funded by the Penguin Foundation, began in November. Over 70 participants from land management, wildlife and emergency response agencies came together at the Nobbies Centre on Wednesday November 13 for training on responding to a marine pollution event.
“The first 48 hours of an oil spill response is critical to minimise the impacts to wildlife and the environment. Exercise Pinguino will help us test the capability of our Incident Management Plans and give staff and volunteers and deeper understanding of best practice in responding to an oil spill event” said Dr Roz Jessop, Environment Manager at Phillip Island Nature Parks, and present during the last major oiled wildlife incident to affect Phillip Island.
The exercise was designed to generate discussion regarding the response capabilities of all involved in the first 48 hours of a mock oil spill situation. During the training participants covered a range of topics including wildlife emergency, media and information responses, and business continuity strategies. Phase 1 of Exercise Pinguino was attended by staff from Phillip Island Nature Parks and other agencies involved in marine pollution events and emergency management.
Phase 2 of Exercise Pinguino will continue in May 2014 with a simulated field exercise which will test the activation of volunteer networks and operations of the Wildlife Clinic in a mock oil spill scenario using model penguins. The training will involve up to 20 trained local volunteers. Scott-Andrew Smith from Kirkham-Smith Consultants is facilitating Exercise Pinguino, with sponsorship provided by the Penguin Foundation, ExxonMobil Australia and Department of Environment and Primary Industries.
The Penguin Foundation Open Day held on 23 November 2013 was a great success with over 100 Members and friends and families attending various talks and activities. Members learned how their support helps our Research and Environment teams develop and carry out successful little penguin conservation programs with talks from Dr Peter Dann and John Evans at the Nobbies Centre, followed by afternoon activities including penguin habitat planting and penguin nesting box building as well as a tour of our Wildlife Clinic with Dr Rebecca Overeem and Parade Ranger Mathew.
The day finished off watching the little penguins waddle ashore at the Penguin Parade. To our Members, thank you all for coming along, we had a great day! See you again in 2014. For further images click here. Thank you to David McPherson for images.
Roman Grant, a Year 2 student with a strong passion for penguins, initiated a fundraising drive among his class at O’Connor Cooperative School in Canberra, Australia, with the aim of raising $100. The students decided a cake stall would do the trick and set about baking a variety of yummy treats. With the help of parents, and the rest of the school community, the students raised a total of $317.10 for the Penguin Foundation! A fantastic effort and job done by the students!
By Phillip Island Nature Parks
An innovative project set to revolutionise wildlife rescue with the use of a magnetic 'magic wand' during oil spills has been honoured with a prestigious Banksia Environmental Award.
The project, a joint initiative between Phillip Island Nature Parks and Victoria University, won the Banskia Award in the inaugural 'Business and Not-for-Profits – In Collaboration' category.
The joint application titled 'Magic Wand Oiled Penguin Recovery Technology' details the impressive story of the collaboration between Professor John Orbell of Victoria University's Institute for Sustainability and Innovation and Dr Peter Dann, penguin biologist at Phillip Island Nature Parks, to produce an innovative solution to treat oiled wildlife. The method works by applying oil absorbing magnetic micro-particles to oiled plumage, fur and even rocks. The particles bind strongly to the oil and are then 'magnetically harvested' with a specially designed hand held device dubbed the 'wand'. The design of the wand allows the oil-laden particles to be readily disposed of in an environmentally responsible way or recycled. "Unlike the traditional detergent cleansing method, magnetic particle technology is portable so that contamination can be removed upon first encountering the animal which greatly enhances and animal’s chance of survival," Dr Orbell said. The award was accepted by the Chair of Phillip Island Nature Parks Board of Management, Jeffrey Floyd, and Professor Orbell.
The Banksia Awards are Australia’s most prestigious environmental awards. Phillip Island Nature Parks was also awarded the Gold Banksia Award in 2002.
Ecobud’s Director and staff from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and Queensland, Australia visited Phillip Island to see first-hand how their sponsorship supports little penguins. Ecobud provides financial and in-kind support to the Penguin Foundation, including proceeds from their little penguin water filter bottle and Adopt-a-Penguin packs given with the Quzoo water filter products. The team had a fantastic experience meeting Phillip Island Nature Parks’ penguin biologist Dr Peter Dann, visiting the Penguin Parade and the Nobbies Centre for some seal watching.
Year 1 students at Ringwood North Primary School in Victoria, Australia participated in a read-a-thon during Term 3 2013 to raise funds for native wildlife conservation. The class worked very hard and collected over $2184 in donations for the Penguin Foundation! Here they are holding up knitted little penguin jumpers and celebrating their achievement.
Well done and thank you Year 1's!
A little penguin that was found very underweight at Forest Caves, Phillip Island. He was taken to the Wildlife Clinic where staff rehydrated him before slowly introducing fish. Over several weeks, staff helped him reach a healthy weight and condition. Watch the fantastic video of his release back into the sea!
The Wildlife Clinic, supported by your contributions to the Penguin Foundation, is purpose built to care for Phillip Island’s sick and injured native wildlife. Starvation, road trauma, pet or feral animal attacks, oil spills and boat trauma are common causes of admittance to the Clinic. The ultimate aim of wildlife rehabilitation is to return healthy animals to the wild so they can resume life without further support. Each year the Wildlife Clinic treats approximately 150 little penguins and 300 to 400 other native animals, including short-tailed shearwaters, southern giant petrels, possums and koalas.
It is winter now on Phillip Island and the little penguins are spending their time both out at sea and ashore readying their burrows for nesting and the upcoming breeding season beginning in September, but its the wild nights that were had last breeding season that has had everyone talking lately!
Little penguin breeding bonanza on Phillip Island!
Our research team recently announced the past little penguin breeding season was the best since 1990 with an average of 1.4 chicks fledged per female.
The blossoming little penguin population is primarily due to increased food supply, breeding behaviour and conservation efforts, but also warmer waters of Bass Strait during autumn resulting in an earlier start to the breeding season in spring.
Since records began in 1968, the long-term yearly average is one chick fledged per female penguin. This recent breeding success follows years of above average fledging rates but researchers are cautious about predictions for the future. Despite recent trends in population growth, the birds are still at the mercy of variations in the amount of food available to them. “In the mid-90s a virus caused mass mortality in pilchards, a primary food source for little penguins. The result was the lowest little penguin breeding success on record at Phillip Island,” said Dr Peter Dann, research manager of Phillip Island Nature Parks.
In addition, extensive conservation work goes into protecting the colony, including a program to protect little penguins from introduced foxes and the Victorian Government’s Summerland Housing Buyback Scheme completed in 2010 that returned vital habitat back to the birds.
Do little penguins tweet? No, but we do! The Penguin Foundation is now on Twitter. We'd love you to follow us to keep up with the latest happenings in the lives of the little penguins of Phillip Island.
Summerlands Estate Buyback Scheme Update
Over 30 years ago, progressive residential development of the Summerlands Estate was considered a significant threat to the survival of the little penguin colony on Phillip Island. Research by Dr Peter Dann about the threats to the Summerland colony prompted, the Victorian Government to buy back Summerlands Estate over a 25 year period. To our knowledge it is the only time a town has been bought specifically for wildlife conservation.
In 2010 the final houses were removed and revegetation and rehabilitation of the penguin habitat has continued for a number of years.
This program is now in its final days with all milestones achieved. Managing and conducting these large scale works is a significant environmental achievement and has made an enormous difference to the natural environment of the Summerland Peninsula.
Milestones achieved include:
- All houses removed from the Summerlands Estate
- All power poles and power lines removed, and power installed underground
- Cultural heritage survey and assessment completed
- A vegetation management plan completed
- Weeds such as kikuyu, boxthorn, thistle, polygala, pittosporum and woody weeds have been greatly reduced
- Revegetation with over 105,000 indigenous plants
- Habitat rehabilitated with over 1500 penguin boxes constructed and installed.
Knitted Little Penguin Jumpers
Knitted little penguin jumperscontinue to arrive on our doorstep from knitters all over the world. These jumpers play an important role in saving a little penguin affected by an oil spill. When oiled penguins are admitted to the Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre at Phillip Island Nature Parks, a knitted jumper is placed on the penguins to keep them warm and prevent them from preening and swallowing the toxic oil.
Recently, we received a special knitted jumper from one of our littlest friends, Tilly. Tilly and her grandmother sent in the gift with a hand-written letter for our rangers. Thank you Tilly!
We are very grateful for the time and effort put in by all volunteer knitters. For further information on the Knitted Little Penguin Jumper Program firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dr Peter Dann – Finalist Prime Minister’s ‘Environmentalist of the Year Award’ - 2013
We are delighted to announce that Dr Peter Dann, research manager of Phillip Island Nature Parks and acclaimed penguin biologist, was this year nominated as one of five national finalists for the inaugural Prime Minister’s ‘Environmentalist of the Year Award’ for his lifetime of dedication to saving Phillip Island’s little penguins.
Meet the penguins of burrow 86
With microchip technology, penguin researchers have been able to keep track of a little penguin pair from burrow 86.
Microchip #689D0BE - male - microchipped as an adult in 1998 in burrow 86
Microchip #689E895 - female - microchipped as an adult in 2000 in burrow 85
Microchip #689E895 - female - microchipped as an adult in 2000 in burrow 85
• In 2001-02 both bred next door to each other with different partners
• In 2003 he ‘moved in’ with her (to burrow 85) and they successfully
raised one chick until fledging
• In 2004 they moved to burrow 86 and successfully raised one chick
• In 2005 they successfully raised one chick
• In 2006 they successfully raised two chicks
• In 2007 they had two eggs during the false breed, then laid another
clutch during the real breed and raised one chick
• In 2008 they lost their first clutch, tried again, and successfully raised
• In 2009 they laid two eggs in the false breed, then raised one chick in the real breeding season
• In 2010 they had a break from breeding
• In 2011 the pair did not breed and the female has recently been seen in burrow 86 with a penguin microchipped 6F11581.
The new male was first detected in the breeding site a year ago.