English girl attuned to plight of our penguins

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News that the Yellow-eyed penguin may become extinct prompted England’s eight-year-old Phoebe Booton, to devise a plan which would raise funds for the Oamaru colonies, including the blue penguins.

In April, Phoebe, along with her 10-year-old sister Liv and her parents Jasen and Ann visited Oamaru to stay with their friend.

The family, who are from Malvern, Worcestershire, spent four days in Oamaru and visited the Blue Penguin Colony.

“I felt like I wanted to help these penguins and when I got home, I decided to raise some money by selling cards at my school,” she said.

“I was also very upset to hear how the yellow-eyed penguins, the rarest penguins in the world, might become extinct.

“I had to raise money for these penguins as well.”

Upon her arrival home, Phoebe teamed up with illustrator Helen Ward to create cards featuring blue penguins.

On the back of the card it read ‘To raise funds to protect the Oamaru Blue Penguins and Yellow-eyed Penguins of New Zealand’.

“I’d love to do more to help,” she said.

“I think it’s important to care about wildlife.”

Phoebe has been selling the cards at her school Northleigh Primary School and some cards have been sent to the Blue Penguin Colony shop to sell.

“I even got a certificate in assembly for raising money,” she said.

Mr Booton said her family were proud of what she is doing.

“Everyone who has seen the cards love them,” he said.

“It’s definitely got people talking about Oamaru and the penguins

“New Zealand is so lucky to have such incredible wildlife, it really needs to be valued by a world wide community.”

Phoebe said the penguins are so beautiful and silky.

“I like they way they waddle from the ocean to their nesting boxes,” she said.

“I find it funny how they follow each other in a little line.”

Tourism Waitaki general manager Jason Gaskill said the staff at the Blue Penguin Colony were impressed by Phoebe’s efforts.

“We wish her all the best,” he said.

“We have feedback from a lot of people that come in and wish to assist in some way.”

Phoebe said she also enjoyed the steampunk playground and seeing other marine life.

“I even rode a penny farthing,” she said.

“We met with the steampunk society who were really interesting.”

By Jessie Waite