A colony of little penguins flocks to an island off the coast of Warrnambool in Victoria, Australia. They spend six months of the year there to nest. For decades they would do this, causing fisherman to remark that “they couldn? hear themselves think for all the penguins squawking.?However, in recent years the population dropped dramatically, due to the presence of foxes. These predators would go to the island during low tide and ultimately attack and kill the little birds. The number of penguins left on Middle Island was close to zero.
A science student at university named David Williams worked on Allan Marsh? farm not far from Middle Island. Williams relayed to Marsh the article he? read about the penguin situation on the island, ABC Radio reports. His response was that the island needed a Maremma Sheepdog.
This particular breed of dog is known for protecting livestock from foxes, wolves and the like. Marsh had a Maremma Sheepdog named Oddball that was doing just that on his farm. He didn? have to worry about foxes getting his chickens once Oddball was on the farm. After a lot of work, Marsh and Williams were finally able to convince the Warrnambool Council that putting Oddball on the island would protect the remaining little penguin population, according to ABC Radio.
When they arrived on the island, the men were a little concerned on how the first encounter between Oddball and the penguins might go.
“When we all sat out there at night waiting for the penguins to come up on the island we were all shaking in our boots wondering how it would go really because that was the big unknown,” Williams told ABC Radio. “A couple of penguins came up and saw the dog and just snuck back down again but then one confident one just strolled straight up and old Oddball went to give it a sneaky sniff on the backside and the penguin gave it a squawk and went for her nose. Oddie popped to the side and the penguin continued on, so it was really quite uneventful I guess.”
Thanks to Oddball, the foxes could no longer get to the little penguins and the penguin population soon replenished itself. Now, two other Maremma Sheepdogs have taken over Oddball? role and a movie has been made about the story.
Will you see it?