The march of the (virtual) penguins
26 August 2020 at 5:27 pm
The organisers behind Live Penguin TV hope the live stream will raise global awareness and funds for conservation projects
Strict stage four lockdown restrictions across Victoria mean this year’s popular Phillip Island penguin parade isn’t running as it normally would.
But on Tuesday, nearly 1 million penguin fans turned on their TVs to witness up to 3,000 little penguins make the dangerous dash from sea to land, from the comfort and safety of their living rooms.
Running every night from 6pm AEST, it’s believed to be the world’s first nightly live stream of a natural wildlife event at a regular time.
The launch of Live Penguin TV also coincides with the annual breeding season, with penguin chicks starting to fill the hundreds of burrows scattered across sand dunes above the wild beach.
While the live stream is completely free to join, Sally O’Neill, the Phillip Island Nature Parks community engagement officer, told Pro Bono News she hopes the event will do a little more than bring a smile to the faces of those in lockdown – and encourage people to give.
She said that to comply with coronavirus restrictions, the park is now completely closed to visitors, which in pre-pandemic times was a major source of revenue for the foundation.
“We’re very lucky that the state government is supporting us through this and keeping our essential conservation activities going,” she said.
“But donations to the foundation are still very important to keep those essential conservation activities going.”
Since the early 1900s, nine out of 10 little penguin colonies on Phillip Island have become extinct – in large part due to habitat loss and the devastation caused by introduced predators such as foxes.
The Penguin Foundation funds environmental protection programs carried out by rangers from Phillip Island Nature Parks to eradicate foxes from Phillip Island and rehabilitate disturbed penguin habitat back to a natural state.
O’Neill said while the public weren’t able to see and appreciate the conservation work in person, the live stream was a great way to spread and highlight the important work the organisation did.
“We love sharing the story of the research that we do about the incredible conservation work that we do,” she said.
“When you’ve got a captive audience at home in lockdown it’s a great time to share a few more of those really important conservation messages about how we protect wildlife.”
The streaming will continue after the current restrictions are lifted, allowing as many people as possible to watch the action from home.
Want to see the penguins for yourself? Tune in every night from 6 pm here.