Unlike many other penguin species, Little Penguins come ashore to roost in burrows on the beach or rock crevices and can be seen along the southern coast of Australia for much of the year. They can also sleep out at sea and sometimes spend weeks away from land.
The Shipwreck area is set amidst the Southern Oceans of Australia, which are subject to an unusual combination of warm and cold sea currents, making them a unique habitat for some of the world's most amazing and diverse marine species. One of the most famous inhabitants is the beautiful Little Penguin (*Eudyptula minor*), also commonly known as the Fairy Penguin. The smallest penguin in the world, the little penguin is also the only penguin species to breed on mainland Australia. Little penguins aren't just inhabitants of the far south, however, as they've also been found in Sydney Harbour.
Our penguin population is a very successful breeding colony. Every year, so many new chicks are born that once they are fully-fledged, some can be sent to other zoos and aquariums around Australia. The penguin habitat has been carefully designed to create a natural environment, and the wave action generated in the pool makes it a lot of fun for the penguins, who enjoy riding the waves as they would in the wild. Nesting boxes and nesting material such as gum leaves are also available in breeding season for the penguins, who always stay with the same partner for breeding and parenting.
In the wild, penguins have many natural predators, such as seals and sharks in the water and some reptiles and birds on land. But there are now other things which may threaten the survival of this protected species: domestic animals such as cats and feral animals such as foxes, urban sprawl, which reduces their habitat, and overfishing, which reduces the penguins' food stocks.
When little penguins leave a beach for the first time as chicks, they somehow take a visual imprint of it - a kind of photo in their head. As the years go by, they always return to the exact same beach to breed, even though they might not have been back for a long time.