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Happy Feet! New Zealand Town Creates an Underpass Just for Penguins

Nov 14, 2016 05:52 AM EST
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The tiny blue penguins in New Zealand are certainly getting a lot of love from their community. Just recently, an underpass was created especially for them to protect them from vehicles and afford them a bit of privacy from gawking tourists.

According to a report from The Guardian, the tunnel is meant to help these penguins pad between their nests and the sea, specifically to the Oamaru Harbour, Otago, on the east coast of the South Island. It follows the birds' usual route and the builders even transferred a couple of power and supply lines for the 80-foot long underpass.

"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.

Blue penguins are members of the world's smallest penguin species. A regular one is roughly one foot tall and weighs about one kilogram. They're usually spotted along the coast of southern Australia. The species lives to about a decade and waddles with a very distinct stoop.

Oamaru Blue Penguin Colony marine biologist Philippa Agnew revealed in a report from Otago Daily Times that the underpass was conceptualized because of penguins' nature to be very habitual in using their established paths despite the fact that it has become very busy.

"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."

The construction started back in September, a report from Mother Nature Network said. By November, it was already operational with lights to help the small creatures navigate their new underground route. Cameras were even placed in the tunnel for monitoring and observing.

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