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NZ builds underpass for little penguins to safely cross road

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Auckland, New Zealand (CNN)It's not easy being the world's tiniest penguin.

New Zealand's blue-feathered korora -- or little penguins-- are more comfortable at sea than waddling on land, where the perils of cars, dogs and inquisitive humans await.

Found along the length of the South Pacific country's coastline, their numbers are in decline but the South Island town of Oamaru has stepped in to make the birds' lives easier by building them their very own underpass.

The tunnel below the road is a first for New Zealand's little penguins and was originally conceived by marine biologist Philippa Agnew, a researcher at Oamaru's Blue Penguin Colony.

The colony's general manager Jason Gaskill told CNN that the town council, local tourism body and civil works companies got on board and that a number of companies donated labor and goods to see the underpass built.

"I would say that the project itself has caught the imagination of a lot of people -- the local community included," he said.

The penguins fish at sea but nest on land and Gaskill said that at this part of Oamaru Harbour -- by the colony-- the birds had to cross a busy road to get to their chicks once the sun went down.


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