This New Zealand town installed an underpass for the blue-feathered korora so they might avoid the dangers posed by cars, dogs, and people.
To ensure that the blue-feathered korora – or little penguins – are protected in the New Zealand town of Oamaru, residents banded together to install an underpass for the little guys. When waddling to and from the sea, the penguins can face a number of dangers, including cars, dogs, and nosey humans. Now, they have the privacy and protection they require.
The idea to install an underpass was originally conceived by marine biologist Philippa Agnew, who works as a researcher at Oamaru’s Blue Penguin Colony. It didn’t take long before the town council, employees within the tourism industry and civil works companies jumped on board and donated labor and goods to see the underground tunnel was built.
Jason Gaskill, the colony’s general manager, told CNN:
“I would say that the project itself has caught the imagination of a lot of people — the local community included.”
It is not uncommon for the birds to flock to the sea and return to land, as they nest in boxes at the colony. Special lighting has been installed to allow humans to observe the tiny penguins. Car lights are another story, however. According to Gaskill, the blinding lights can confuse the birds and make the distance between the sea and their homes perilous. He explained,
“It’s a well-used and well-travelled road, particularly in the summer when the penguins have their chicks and their movements are highest.”
“There was potential danger there, so what we wanted to do was create an environment where people, penguins and vehicles could move freely,” he added.
Though the pass was completed in September, it’s only now receiving the recognition it deserves. It took three weeks to build the underpass and the feedback has been “almost universally positive,” says Gaskill. It’s not unusual for twenty or so to duck beneath the road each night, reports The Independent.
Fortunately, the marine biologists don’t need to worry about the blue-feathered korora using the underpass.
“Penguins are quite habitual, so once they’ve discovered that there’s a safe route they’ll tend to use it,” commented Gaskill.
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