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Saturday, January 07, 2006

City penguins TV stars

City penguins TV stars

URBAN-dwelling fairy penguins that frequent the North-West city of Burnie are about to feature in a Japanese documentary.

For the past 10 days a film crew from Tokyo has been documenting the unusual life of the city-slicking birds and the efforts of volunteers who help them survive in their unnatural environment.

The half-hour documentary will be shown on the popular Japanese Space Ship Earth program screened each Sunday.

Director Takeshi Matsumoto said the crew had flown to Tasmania after hearing about Burnie's fairy penguins.

"This is the only place in the world that we could find where little penguins live in a city," Mr Matsumoto said.

"The efforts of volunteers who build fences to protect them and school children who make them false burrows are all part of the story."

Shane Malcolm, of Burnie-based Thylacine Expeditions, has been guiding the five-man film crew.

"This is the second Japanese film crew I have helped with little penguins and I have four more crews booked this year who want to film the giant freshwater lobster, platypus, the Tasmanian devil and the Tasmanian tiger. "

Mr Malcolm said during last week's filming he had been amazed by the number of tourists being drawn to Burnie by the fairy penguins.

"The night we filmed the penguins coming ashore in the Burnie CBD there were about 60 people waiting for them on the boardwalk and most of them were from interstate.

"This documentary will be seen by more than a million people so who knows what effect that will have on tourism here."


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