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Project Penguin 2012

Today, 800 primary and secondary students gathered at Taronga Zoo to show off their exciting creations for the Project Penguin Expo. 

A bright array of over 112 projects ranging from sculptures, papier-mâché penguins, and multimedia were only display near the main entrance to promote the conservation of Manly’s Little Penguin population.

This was the first time students could admire the projects from other schools so there was a great buzz of excitement. 

Since May, students from Manly West, Manly Village, Manly Vale, Curl Curl North, Harbord and Beacon Hill schools, along with 200 Year 9 mentors from Northern Beaches Secondary College have been working on ways to try and help Manly’s Little Penguin.

Oliver Craker, a Year 9 student from Balgowlah Boys Campus, said: “I worked with Manly Vale PS. The group made a stand-up cardboard penguin. It helps the public to be aware of the Little Manly penguins and the problems of survival they face.”

Nikki Doyle, the project coordinator, highlighted the importance of Project Penguin for the penguins, “In Manly there are now only 60 breeding pairs of Little Penguins. Making them very endangered.”

“Little Penguins will always return to where they hatched. Even if the area is developed, they will walk through backyards, down stairs and through the suburbs to get to their old nesting areas. This puts them at risk.”

Nikki said, “Last year alone, seven Little Penguins were attacked by dogs. So it’s important for locals to keep their dogs on a leash and lock their gates at night.”

Visitors to the expo learnt a lot about what they do to help protect this endangered bird. If locals are lucky enough to spot a Little Penguin in the wild, they shouldn’t use flash photography, as the sudden light hurts their sensitive eyes and temporarily blinds them.

Picking up litter and properly disposing of fishing line waste also helps to keep the Little Penguins from harm.

Throughout the July school holidays, many locations such as Manly Cinemas, Humphreys Newsagency, the Bavarian Bier Café and Oceanworld will have student work on exhibition. The Manly Library is hosting a Taronga Zoomobile visit as part of a presentation night with additional student displays on Thursday 19th July from 4-5pm.

Project Penguin is a community education program developed by Taronga’s Education Department with the Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH), the Manly Environment Centre and the Northern Beaches Learning Alliance schools.

Madeleine Smitham, Media Intern

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