Australian dog that saved penguins dies

Sydney, Feb 16 (IANS) An Australian dog that gained international fame for saving a colony of penguins has died at age 15, the media reported.

Oddball, the fluffy Maremma, died from natural causes after a 10-year career in which he saved the penguins on Middle Island, 150 metres offshore off Warnambool in Victoria’s south-west, from extinction, Xinhua news agency reported.

The penguin population had been cut to fewer than 10 penguins by wild foxes in 2005.

The dwindling population led Alan Marsh, a chicken farmer, to suggest that a Maremma should be employed to protect the penguins after he had success using the Italian sheep dog to protect his chicks.

After the success of Oddball, two dogs — Eudy and Tula — now spend five days a week on the island during breeding season.

The penguin population was estimated to be at 130 in 2015.

Kylie Gaston, the mayor of Warnambool, said she believed a statue of Oddball, who was the subject of a 2015 feature film, would be a fitting tribute to the dog.

–IANS

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