REAL LIFE

Tiny penguins using their specially-built underpass is the cutest thing you’ll see all day

Local wildlife heroes find clever way to protect the tiny birds from traffic.
Oamaru Blue Penguin Colony

It’s a tragic fact, but roads are terrible for wild animals, and in the Kiwi town of Oamaru Harbour they have a particularly hard time protecting the local colony of the world’s smallest penguins.

That’s where researchers stepped in, building a 25 metre long underpass beneath the busy road that cuts in between their nests and their food source – the sea.

At only a foot tall, and each weighing less than a kilo, the small blue penguin can use all the help it can get as development threatens their habitats.

‘The project was supported by the local Waitaki district council, as well as a number of private businesses who offered labor, materials, and advice,’ Tourism Waitaki Limited general manager Jason Gaskill said.

‘Penguins are quite habitual, so once they’ve discovered that there’s a safe route they’ll tend to use it.’

To keep an eye on the penguins a camera was set up at both ends – and sure enough the tiny birds took to it with enthusiasm. The underpass even helps other birds – with ducklings spotted waddling through as well.

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