Animal crossings are a brilliant idea. Not only are they the right thing to do for wildlife, they actually work!
It was with that in mind that a New Zealand town decided to build an underpass specifically for penguins to keep them protected from vehicles and given them some privacy from snooping tourists.
The tunnel for the penguins will allow them to pass easily between nesting grounds and the Oamaru Harbour on the eastern coast of the South Island.
“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.
Construction began last September and the tunnel was operational, including small lights to help them see, in November. Cameras have been placed inside of the tunnels to give us a peek at how they’re doing.
The blue penguin is the smallest species of penguin on earth. They’re about a foot tall and weigh around one kilogram. Like many birds, they are habitual. That’s part of why the underpass was developed.
Philippa Agnew, a marine biologist who studies the Oamaru blue penguin colony knew they weren’t going to be able to reroute their normal traffic.
“Well they’re pretty set in their ways; they’re pretty determined,” Agnew explained in News Hub. “So when they come ashore to a specific area, they’ll continue to do that.”