Sydney: 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.