Two fairy penguins have been discovered in the backyard of a Greenvale home.

Wildlife compliance officers from the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DEWLP) and police officers from Broadmeadows visited the house on Thursday and found the penguins in a cage in the yard.

It is believed the penguins were taken from Phillip Island.

A man at the Greenvale property was interviewed by wildlife compliance officers.

DEWLP said a man claimed to have rescued the penguins because he believed they were sick.

The penguins, which were underweight but otherwise alert and active, were taken to Melbourne Zoo for assessment by its Marine Rescue Unit.

They are feeding but tests will be carried out by zoo vets to assess the penguins’ overall health.

Once they have received the all-clear from vets, they will be released back into their natural habitat at Phillip Island.

The department said the rescue served as reminder about the importance of reporting injured wildlife.

“It is exciting to see a penguin out in the wild, but important to remember they are wild animals and cannot be taken from the wild,” the department said in a statement.

“In Victoria, all wildlife is protected under the Wildlife Act 1975. It is illegal to destroy or interfere with wildlife and severe penalties apply.

“Marine animals, particularly penguins require specialist care and diet and it’s important people contact the Marine Rescue Unit when they come across a sick or injured marine animal.”