How did an emaciated little penguin end up walking the suburban streets of Thirroul and dying just three days later? It's a question, that's left residents perplexed.
A pizza delivery driver couldn't believe his eyes when he spotted a little penguin waddling around a suburban street in Thirroul and quickly called his girlfriend Eden Rout.
It wasn't the call 21-year-old Eden Rout and her mum Donna Rout expected on a Friday night as the pair quickly drove to Thirroul to investigate.
"Sure enough, there was this little penguin just waddling up the street and just looking quite lost," Donna Rout said.
The Bulli residents found the penguin at the elbow bend of Sea Foam Ave, Thirroul closest to The Waves and Coast Street on Friday, September 8.
"It was disbelief. That realisation 'oh my gosh it's actually a penguin!' and [the next thought] 'Now, what are we going to do?'," she said.
The quick thinking pair got a milk crate from the back of their car and coaxed it in and called the Australian Sea Bird and Turtle Rescue hotline.
Mrs Rout recalls the operator asked her 'Are you sure it's a penguin?', and the penguin vocalised a response, 'Yes, definitely a penguin!'.
Both the mother and daughter and the hotline operator were surprised that the bird managed to make its way to the street, 760 metres away from the ocean and across a railway line.
Australian Sea Bird and Turtle Rescue confirmed that they were alerted of the incident at 8pm on Friday, September 8.
"The bird was taken immediately to a local avian specialist vet," the coordinator for the south coast branch, Lisa Hood said.
"It was given immediate high-level medical attention but unfortunately couldn't be saved. [It was] very anaemic and very, very emaciated."
The bird may have been emaciated because it had been on land for an extended period without eating, but this cannot be confirmed.
The bird was also treated for an infection, its condition didn't improve over the weekend and it died on Monday night, September 11.
It's common for little penguins to be spotted on the South Coast with a colony breeding off the five islands in Port Kembla, Ms Hood said.
"We're not sure how the penguin got that far up into the suburban street. We really don't know, we can't rule out that it wasn't a human," she said.
"Maybe somebody had found it on the beach and thought that they would take it home to help it? Again, it's all speculation. Feeding them is obviously not something that anyone would know how to do unless they are trained."
Mrs Rout said she was very sad to hear that the penguin had died as they were hoping for a happy ending.
If you have information on the little penguin found in Thirroul please contact Australian Seabird and Turtle Rescue South Coast on their hotline 0431 282 238.
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