The Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions (DBCA) is transferring several little penguins, formerly housed at the Penguin Island Discovery Centre, to their new homes this long weekend.

This decision was made in the best interests of the penguins. After spending the last few months at their short-term winter care facility at Cape Peron, they are now being integrated into existing penguin populations at Perth Zoo and Caversham Wildlife Park.

Two are being rehomed at the Zoo and four are being rehomed at Caversham. The facilities are well placed to take care of the animals through integrating them into resident populations.

The eldest of the seven, who was blind and 20+ years old, sadly had to be euthanised, on the advice of animal welfare experts and veterinarians from Perth Zoo.

The decision not to rebuild the facility on the island was based on climate change impacting the island’s vulnerable penguin population. 

The Penguin Island Discovery Centre was permanently closed in June after multiple independent engineering assessments concluded the building was no longer structurally sound. The centre will be demolished, and the area rehabilitated to provide additional habitat for wild little penguins and other seabirds. 

The island itself is not closing. Visitor facilities such as toilets, picnic tables, boardwalks, shade structures and interpretation are being upgraded.  

The State Government has also provided $250,000 in funding to investigate the feasibility of locating the facility on the mainland.

Last summer, a management decision was made to close Penguin Island to the public on the hottest days of the year and during the extended breeding season to protect the wild penguin population. This approach will continue to apply this summer. This will allow wild penguins to naturally move from island vegetation into the surrounding waters of Shoalwater Islands Marine Park to cool down or ‘thermo-regulate’, during their moulting period when they are vulnerable.

The health and welfare of the island’s resident wild penguins remains DBCA’s priority.