Wildlife Rangers Save Little Penguin's Life after Spotting Plastic Wrapped Around Its Throat

Wildlife officials saved the life of a penguin who had plastic stuck around its neck during a popular live stream event.

Every night, Phillip Island Nature Parks in southeastern Australia broadcasts live footage of up to 3,000 little penguins (Eudyptula minor) emerging from the ocean after fishing and waddling up a beach back to their burrows.

But during a stream of the penguin parade last Thursday, watched by people around the world, a ranger who was commentating on the broadcast spotted something unusual on the neck of one of the little penguins.

"What does that one have on its neck? That looks a little bit funny," the commentator, identified as Ranger Megan, said.

Subsequently, the expert realized that the penguin had a piece of plastic stuck around its neck.

"It looks like it could be something plastic which is not good. We certainly don't want that for our little penguins and we do have a wildlife hospital here at the penguin parade where we will take any sick or injured penguins to help protect them and rehabilitate them and release them back in the wild," Ranger Megan said.

The ranger said the penguin in question looked "nice and healthy" suggesting that the plastic had become stuck around its neck recently.

After spotting the penguin, the ranger alerted one of her colleagues on the beach, Ranger Jordan, who managed to remove the plastic. The small bird then waddled away and rejoined the parade, seemingly unharmed.

"It is really important we dispose of our rubbish correctly. So that's anything whether it be a plastic bag or mask. That looked like a hair tie—make sure you cut them up and put them in the bin," Ranger Megan said.

Social media users following the live stream praised the actions of the two rangers who helped the penguin.

"Great work helping that penguin with the impediment around its neck tonight. You're all heroes," said one YouTube user, Matthew Davey.

"Great teamwork Megan and Jordan," a Facebook user wrote.

Phillip Island, located off the coast of southeastern Australia, is home to one of the largest colonies of little penguins in the world. Growing up to around 13 inches in height, they are the smallest species of penguin on the planet. The flightless birds are only found on the coastlines of southern Australia and New Zealand.

While little penguins are considered to be an animal of "Least Concern," around half of known seabird species are thought to be experiencing population declines, while 28 percent are considered globally threatened, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

little penguins
Little penguins runs towards the sea after being released by wildlife workers and school children at Mount Maunganui beach in Tauranga, New Zealand, on December 8, 2011. Wildlife rangers saved a little penguin's life after spotting plastic wrapped around its throat. Marty Melville/AFP via Getty Images