Over 820 Northern Beaches students today celebrated 10 years of caring for Little Penguins through the Zoo’s Project Penguin program.
The Project Penguin Expo Day came to Taronga’s Main Entrance Plaza in the culmination of months of work by Northern Beaches students to raise awareness of the plight of Little Penguins in their local area.
Following Expo Days at each of the schools, 50 of the best projects were on display in the plaza with students also using digital media and animation to present and share their work.
Taronga’s Project Coordinator, Rod Cheal said, “It’s lovely that the 10th anniversary of Project Penguin coincides with Taronga’s Centenary and we are proud of what the program has achieved. For 10 years, students have been learning about a locally threatened species and it’s wonderful to see students learning real educational outcomes and influencing their local community.”
Taronga’s Education team began the program 10 years ago to enable students to spend time with penguin experts at the Zoo and out in the field, as well as taking the opportunity to reach out to their local community. The program uses peer-based learning where high school students help primary students develop, design and create campaigns showing their community how to take action for Little Penguins whose lives and habitat are at risk.
During the initial phase of the program, primary students participated in a Habitat Day where they learnt practical skills such as beach habitat assessments, as well as cleaning and caring for coastal bushland. They also heard from representatives of the Manly Environment Centre and the Manly Penguin Wardens. The students then spent a day at Taronga Zoo and met with Marine Mammal Keeper, Paul McIvor and Wildlife Hospital Manager, Libby Hall to learn more about Little Penguins, the threats they face in the wild and what to do to should they come across an injured Little Penguin.
A ceremony was held at Taronga’s Free Flight Bird Show amphitheatre after the Expo to congratulate the students involved and to thank them for all of their hard work.
The expo and ceremony was attended by Taronga Centenary Ambassador, Kerryn Baird, who said Project Penguin was a wonderful program. “It’s become such an important part of the whole Northern Beaches community”, Mrs Baird said, “It’s been an absolute pleasure to come and see what they’ve [the students] have done.”
Project Penguin is run with the support of the Northern Beaches Learning Alliance, National Parks and Wildlife Service, Manly Environment Centre, Manly Sea Life Sanctuary, Department of Education and Catholic Education Office, community volunteers in the Manly district and various Zoo experts.
The projects will be on display at Stockland Mall, Balgowlah during the July school holidays.