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Summerland Peninsula Returned to Penguins, Suburb is Erased

Besha Rodell for The New York Times:

The “penguin parade” has been a major attraction since the 1920s, when tourists were led by torchlight to view the nightly arrival of the birds — the world’s smallest penguin breed, with adults averaging 13 inches tall — from a day of fishing and swimming.

For much of that time, the penguins lived among the residents of a housing development, mostly modest vacation homes, in tight proximity to cars and pets, as well as ravenous foxes. The penguins’ numbers fell precipitously. But in 1985, the state government took an extraordinary step: It decided to buy every piece of property on the Summerland Peninsula and return the land to the penguins. The process was completed in 2010.

The birds are now thriving. There are about 31,000 breeding penguins on the peninsula, up from 12,000 in the 1980s. Phillip Island Nature Parks is the most popular wildlife tourist destination in the state of Victoria, drawing 740,000 visitors in 2018. And late last month, a gleaming symbol of that success opened to the public: a $58 million visitor center, a striking star-shaped building with glass walls that look onto penguin burrows.

The penguins are alright! 🐧💕

This is the first time in a very long time, I’ve come across a positive environmental story. Make sure to checkout the entire piece at The Times. There’s incredible photography, and it’s such an uplifting tale. It’s proof-positive that when we come together, invest in long-term preservation efforts, we can make a lasting impact protecting what matters most to us — our shared home.