A Tasmanian wildlife rehabilitation centre is offering hope for the world's smallest species of penguin.

Little Penguins are often the target of dog attacks and until now relied on a handful of volunteer rescuers to nurse them back to health.

The small penguins and other injured seabirds can now be sent to a $60,000 centre at the Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary outside Hobart for rehabilitation before being returned to the wild.

The centre is split into three sections, a quarantine area, a sun room and a sea-water pool.

Bonorong spokesman, Greg Irons, says the pool is the cornerstone of the complex.

"Because species like the little penguin need regular dips in salt water to waterproof their coats."

Little Penguins moult every year and need to swim regularly in salt water, which stimulates the production of natural oils that waterproof the birds and keep them insulated.

Eric Woehler from Birdlife Tasmania says the sea-water pool is vital to their recovery.

"It's really important for the birds to have waterproof feathers, it maintains body temperature and allows them to swim,"

Mr Irons says the pool will also be beneficial for larger seabirds like the albatross.

"They need some form of water pool to do a form of aqua aerobics, I guess you could call it, so they re-strengthen before we release them back into the wild," he said.

"A lot of them can be fed on the AD food which is actually a mixed food to give to dogs and cats after surgery, it does tend to fatten them up quite quickly."

He is expecting to care for about 30 little penguins at the centre every year, among hundreds of other seabirds.

Visiting experts from Sydney's Taronga Zoo helped plan the complex, which is the first of its kind in Tasmania.

It is expected to take the burden off wildlife volunteers who until now have been been the only group with the skills to help rehabilitate injured seabirds.

 

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