Maremma penguin guardian puppy to be purchased by Warrnambool City Council for Middle Island

GUARDIAN AMBASSADOR: Maremma puppy Avis, pictured at Flagstaff Hill in September last year, will join Amor as ambassadors for the Middle Island Penguin Project. Picture: Amy Paton
GUARDIAN AMBASSADOR: Maremma puppy Avis, pictured at Flagstaff Hill in September last year, will join Amor as ambassadors for the Middle Island Penguin Project. Picture: Amy Paton

DESPITE the devastating deaths of penguins on Warrnambool’s Middle Island, plans for a new Maremma puppy to become a future guardian are underway. 

Current guardian dogs Eudy and Tula are in their final years of active work. Warrnambool Coastcare Landcare Network penguin monitoring co-ordinator Dr Trish Corbett said Amor and Avis, purchased in 2016, were people-friendly.

“Because they like people we think there will be an important role for them off the island,” Dr Corbett said.

“Many visitors to Warrnambool want to meet a maremma and these two young dogs will be ideal for this task. A new maremma puppy has been ordered and will be here by the end of October.”

Since the introduction of the dogs to the island the penguin colony has grown from four birds to more than 200, however 140 were killed by foxes in early August, when the dogs were not present on the island, due to an unexpected early start of the penguin breeding season.