Thursday, November 5, 2015

Penguin massacre at Melbourne Zoo - the full story

November 4, 2015
Penguins at the Royal Melbourne Zoo.

STAFF at Melbourne Zoo discovered a grisly scene in the zoo’s penguin exhibit this morning when 14 penguins were found mauled to death by a fox.
The bodies were found on Wednesday morning after a fox broke into the exhibit overnight.
Fifteen penguins survived the rampage and have all been checked by zoo veterinarians and moved into a secure area.
Wild Seas Manager Justin Valentine says that the surviving Penguins are uninjured and that they are all settling in to their temporary accommodation.
Keepers at the zoo had suspected for the past week that a fox had managed to enter the zoo, but traps and cameras had been unsuccessful in locating it.
Additional measures are now being taken to further fox-proof gates at the zoo.



Fox responsible for penguin slaughter at Melbourne Zoo returns to scene of crime

November 05, 2015: The fox, suspecteded of killing a dozen penguins, was caught sneaking into Melbourne Zoo on CCTV.
The survivors of a vicious fox attack that killed almost half of Melbourne Zoo's little penguin population on Tuesday night remain in isolation as measures are taken to hunt down the culprit, which returned to the scene of the slaughter last night.

New security footage shows the marauding fox returning to the penguin exhibit, which is one of the zoo's most exposed, the creature apparently still hungry after the massacre of 14 penguins.

The 15 survivors of the attack have been moved to a secure location onsite, as have the zoo's quokkas, which were also deemed at risk of attack from the voracious intruder, which is believed to have breached the grounds sometime in the past week.

Returning to the scene of the crime...the fox was caught on camera at the now-empty penguin exhibit last night. (Melbourne Zoo)

 "They'll both be staying off limits in their secure area until we have found a solution," Melbourne Zoo spokeswoman Judith Henke told ninemsn, explaining that the animals will not be available for public viewing while in lockdown.

"We're now increasing the traps and adding in a type of trap which we're advised might be more effective. We're also increasing the number of CCTV cameras," she said, adding that modifications will also be made to gates around the site.

"I guess also we have to consider that the fox might decide to leave the zoo," Ms Henke said.
"That's something we couldn't predict, we saw it on camera last night, so it's still here."

 Evidence of the eyes...the fox's paw prints were found in the penguin exhibit. (Melbourne Zoo)
Fox expert Mark Fenby is less optimistic about the prospect of the fox leaving on its own, for just as the fox's bloodlust is biological, so too is its propensity for recidivism.

"The offending fox will come back," Mr Fenby, who also believes there is likely more than one fox at work, told 9NEWS earlier today.

"It’s not going to be one fox, it’ll be a couple of foxes that are doing it, each fox will learn off the other fox," he said.

"They will be coming in there at night and doing their deed and taking off with the penguins."

 The fox mauled 14 penguins to death on Tuesday night. (Supplied)

In the wild, little penguins are commonly preyed upon by foxes, Vertebrate Pest Management Association Victoria president Cameron Skedd told ninemsn.

“Foxes have preyed heavily on little penguins throughout the coastline of Australia. They just come out of the water of an evening and that's when the foxes are waking up,” Mr Skedd said.

“Of course the penguins are coming up the beach…they smash them. You see the footprints in the sand in the morning and dead penguins everywhere.”

 Penguins are frequently preyed upon by foxes due to their size. (Supplied)

Mr Skedd agreed that a repeat attack was likely.

"The zoo's on a pretty big area, it's got probably lots of different types of fencing…a fox will excavate out under a fence or a gate to get in," Mr Skedd said.

Foxes could kill more penguins than feral cats, he said.

Red foxes were declared a pest in Australia just 20 years after being introduced. (AAP)

"A cat won't kill any more than one or two, where a fox will kill more. Give it the opportunity to kill 20, it'll kill 20."

The red fox was introduced into Australia for hunting purposes in the 1850s, but was declared a pest within 20 years.

According to the Victorian Department of Agriculture, there can be as many as 16 foxes per square kilometre in Melbourne and its surrounds.


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