Penguin Protection Dogs


They say dogs are man’s best friend.
But on Middle Island in Victoria dogs and penguins
are even closer than that. Some specially trained Maremma dogs have the job of protecting local penguins from foxes there. We caught up with them as a
new puppy recruit joined the team. The first puppy has arrived,
he’s a bit of a handful at the moment. [# Reporter] This new four-legged recruit has
a very important job. First time in the world they’ve
used Maremma dogs to look after native species so we’re really lucky to be involved in that. # Yep, you heard right.
This Maremma dog is here to protect native Australian animals. In fact, he’s a penguin protection puppy! And his job will be to protect a colony
of Little Penguins on Middle Island just off the southern
coast of Victoria. He’ll be living on the island, through the
summer breeding season, looking after penguins. So the dogs are generally used in Australia
as stock protectors. So in free range chickens and farms and
those sorts of things. So our program uses these dogs’
natural ability to protect things. # But hang on how come these
poor little penguins need protecting? Well this movie about the story explains it
pretty well. [Narrator] In a remote part of the world,
there’s a magical island where thousands of the littlest penguins of them all make their home. But foxes found the island. And in just a
few short years there were hardly any penguins left. # Thankfully that was when this local chicken farmer Swampy Marsh, yep that’s his real name, came up with a brilliant idea to help. Well, the short story is, the penguin
colony was being predated on by foxes. I knew that these dogs would protect
my chooks, and on other properties they protect
sheep and goats as well. The thing we said was why not use
a European guard dog to fight a European predator? All Maremmas have a very strong sense of territory
in the same way that a wolf does. He’s saying to the fox ‘Go away, I’m here,
this is my territory’. # So in 2006 these two white
knights were brought in to begin guarding penguins on the island. And over the past 10 years sisters
Eudy and Tula have done an amazing job. Before the program started,
there were only 10 penguins left on Middle island. But by
2013 there were 180! But these days Eudy and Tula are getting a
little old for fox chasing. And that’s why this little guy is here. But it will take a lot of training to get
him up to speed including starting work with some chickens! The famous story is that penguins are
just chooks in dinner suits, so if we can train him to look after the chooks,
low to the ground feathered variety, then we can move over to the penguins. # It might not be the most obvious idea. I think like anything involving penguins,
dogs, humans, islands, water, you’re never going to get
anything perfect # But it may very well be the cutest
way we’ve heard of to protect some very special
native Aussie animals.

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