Wildlife rehabilitation


The Wildlife Clinic is purpose built to care for Phillip Island's sick and injured native wildlife and is Victoria's only specialised seabird rehabilitation centre. Starvation, road trauma, pet or feral animal attacks, oil spills and boat trauma are common causes of admittance to the Clinic. The Wildlife Clinic provides access to offsite veterinary care and treatment when required. The ultimate aim of wildlife rehabilitation is to return healthy animals to the wild so they can resume life without further support. 

The Wildlife Clinic opened in 2011 after state of the art renovations funded by the Penguin Foundation, the clinic continues to receive funding through our Adopt a Penguin and Knits for Nature program as well as Phillip Island Nature Parks' ecotourism activities. 


Caring for sick and injured native wildlife

In 2014-15, the Wildlife Clinic cared for 134 little penguins with malnourishment, abrasions, cuts, broken and damaged limbs continue to be the primary cause for care. 334 animals other than penguins were treated which includes animals from 52 different species and is more than double the long-term average of 170. We also saw some international visitors swim in, including a Rockhopper penguin.

The annual ‘Short-tailed Shearwater Rescue Program’ resulted in 365 fledgling birds rescued from the roads around Phillip Island and San Remo and being relocated to safer areas.

Wildlife rehabilitation rangers responded to 681 wildlife rescue calls and provided advice to the public and other wildlife carers.

Knitted little penguin jumpers

Penguin jumpers are adorable but they are not a fashion statement

Knitted penguin jumpers play an important role in saving little penguins affected by oil pollution. A patch of oil the size of a thumb nail can kill a little penguin. Oiled penguins often die from exposure and starvation. Oil separates and mats feathers, allowing water to get in which makes a penguin very cold, heavy and less able to successfully hunt for food.

When oiled penguins are admitted to the Wildlife Clinic at Phillip Island Nature Parks, a knitted jumper may be temporarily placed on the penguins to prevent them from preening and swallowing the toxic oil before they are washed and the oil removed by staff. 

438 little penguins were affected by the last major oil spill near Phillip Island in 2001. Of those, 96% were successfully saved with the help of penguin jumpers, rehabilitated at the Wildlife Clinic and released back into the wild. Read more about the benefits of using penguin jumpers when rehabilitating oiled little penguins here.

Oiled Penguin with jumper July 07 3

If you would like to knit little penguin jumpers please contact us at info@penguinfoundation.org.au as the knitting pattern for penguin rehabilitation jumpers is very specific.

Thank You!

Thank you to keen knitters and those who have contributed to the Knits for Nature program so far by donating little penguin jumpers for penguin rescue in the event of an oil spill, fundraising and education programs. Your interest, time and efforts are greatly appreciated by us and staff who work closely with these special birds. We are currently working through jumper donations and will be in touch via post or email (whichever details have been provided) with an acknowledgment as soon as possible. 

If you would to assist the penguins and the Penguin Foundation, you may like to Adopt a Penguin or Donate, further information can be found here

The Wildlife Clinic

In 2011 the Penguin Foundation contributed $350,000 to the construction of a new Wildlife Clinic.

The new centre is capable of caring for up to 1,500 little penguins in the event of an oil spill and is Victoria's only specialised seabird centre. The clinic also cares for other sick and injured native wildlife such as possums, echidnas, albatross and short-tailed shearwaters.

All injured and sick animals are rehabilitated with the aim of releasing them back into the wild in a healthy condition.


To Report Sick or Injured Wildlife

7:30am to 4pm daily: contact Phillip Island Nature Parks on 5951 2800. 4pm - 7.30am (After Hours) daily: contact Wildlife Victoria on 1300 094 535. Cases, including emergencies, can also be logged at wildlifevictoria.org.au.

The Wildlife Clinic is not equipped to house or rehabilitate seals. Most seals are best left alone to give them a chance to rest and recover.

Approaching seals -  advice from the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning: "Seals often lie on beaches or other areas to rest or moult. This is normal. Sometimes they can also look injured when they are actually not. For example, seals secrete a watery substance from their eyes which is often mistaken for crying or an injury, but it is a natural mechanism to protect their eyes.Seals are also regularly bitten or scratched by other seals. Such wounds heal quickly and don't need human help."