12 November 2016

WELFARE - New Zealand Builds Their First Penguin Underpass

In an effort to protect local penguins, a special tunnel was built to help the birds travel between their nests and the sea at Oamaru Harbour, Otago, on the east coast of the South Island.

The 80 foot (25 metre) underpass, the first of its kind in New Zealand, was “supported by the local Waitaki district council, as well as a number of private businesses who offered labour, materials, and advice,” Jason Gaskill, general manager of Tourism Waitaki Limited, told Reuters

Dangers from traffic, as well as tourists wanting to take photos of the Little Blue Penguins, prompted the construction project.

Other threats Little Blue Penguins - the smallest penguin in the world - face include predators like dogs, cats and stoats, and loss of habitat through erosion.

Construction began in September of this year and included moving power and water lines along the route to accommodate the tunnel.

Concerns the birds may not know to use the underpass were assuaged this month when the tunnel officially opened.

Lights were set up to help the penguins navigate the passage and cameras were placed nearby to monitor its use. Penguin after penguin are on video shaking their tail feathers as they waddle through the underpass.

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