Sunday, March 18, 2007

Sea World vows to rebuild penguin population

Gold Coast theme park Sea World in south-east Queensland says it will rebuild its decimated fairy penguin population.

Twenty-five penguins died from an unknown toxin after the gravel in their enclosure was routinely changed last week.

Marine sciences director Trevor Long says the 12 surviving penguins are in quarantine and are expected to survive.

He says it is possible to rebuild the population.

"We're very fortunate that we have got a good group of birds here in Australia," he said.

"There's birds in all zoos in Australia, a good stud book, so we'll be communicating with the stud book coordinator and with the other zoos getting surplus birds' breeding back up.

"We've still got a good mixture or a reasonable mixture of genetics, so we'll be able to continue breeding up ourselves."

Mr Long says Sea World workers are devastated by the deaths.

He says each bird was named and staff handfed the animals twice a day.

"These staff are dedicated professional people and they are deeply saddened, and they're devastated that this has occurred," he said.

"It was an event that you couldn't identify and you couldn't foresee, so they're extremely hurt at the moment."

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