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Your morning adorable: Little penguins North and South are released in Australia

March 20, 2009 | 11:47 am

North, an adult Little Penguin, is returned to the sea following a period of care at Taronga Zoo's Wildlife Hospital

Two little penguins that received care at the wildlife hospital at Australia's Taronga Zoo were released recently.  North (above) and South, as veterinary nurses dubbed them, were found on beaches near Sydney and brought to Taronga for treatment.

Taronga spokeswoman Danielle McGill said it wasn't unusual for the zoo to take in stray penguins during the birds' molting season, when they lose their feathers -- and their waterproofness.  "They can't go in the water at that time," McGill told the Sydney Morning Herald. "They have to find somewhere around the beach that is relatively quiet, where there are not a lot of people or dogs. As you can imagine, around the Sydney area that is a pretty rare find."

The zoo generally takes in more than 30 penguins each year during molting season. 

South's release went off without a hitch -- the penguin dived straight into the water at Curl Curl beach near Sydney and didn't look back.  North "needed a lot of coaxing" from veterinary nurse Amy Twentyman, according to the Morning Herald.

Little penguins are, naturally, the smallest of the penguin species. They're also known as fairy penguins, blue penguins, and kororā in the Maori language.

More photos of the release after the jump.

North and South are returned to the sea following a period of care at Taronga Zoo's Wildlife Hospital

North, an adult Little Penguin, is returned to the sea following a period of care at Taronga Zoo's Wildlife Hospital

North, an adult Little Penguin, is returned to the sea following a period of care at Taronga Zoo's Wildlife Hospital

North, an adult Little Penguin, is returned to the sea following a period of care at Taronga Zoo's Wildlife Hospital

North, an adult Little Penguin, is returned to the sea following a period of care at Taronga Zoo's Wildlife Hospital

-- Lindsay Barnett

1st, 4th, 5th, 6th photos: Brendon Thorne / Getty Images
2nd, 3rd photos: Greg Wood / AFP/Getty Images

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