Thursday, 3 August 2006

How Redcar plans to save the penguins

A mercy mission is being launched to ensure the preservation of one of Redcar's prized possessions as an invasion force prepare to take over their seafront habitat.

A specially-trained workforce has been organised to quietly approach the colony of penguins, who have been facing the South Pole since their arrival on the Esplanade at least ten years ago, lifting them all into purpose-built trailers for the journey to a place of safety.

Only once before has their space been invaded - when a cheeky thief took one that ended up outside one of the town's fishmongers - but with at least 1,000 visitors set to storm the beaches later this month, Redcar and Cleveland Council decided it had to act.

It is part of a busy period of preparation as the town readies itself for a transformation into 1940s Dunkirk for the filming of scenes for a movie blockbuster, the film version of Ian McEwan's bestselling novel, Atonement.

The stretch of the promenade from the town's Regent Cinema to the boating lake will become a film set, so the risk to those penguins was too great to take.

The Council's highways partner, Alfred McAlpine, has begun the four weeks of preparatory work, removing street furniture, including street lighting columns, signposts, flagpoles, benches, litter bins and, of course, those penguins.

The colony, installed by the Great British Bollard Company as part of the Esplanade's public art, will be transported to a secret location and kept under lock and key before their anticipated return next month, when the stretch of prom returns to the 21st century.

The Council's Cabinet Member for Culture, Leisure and Tourism Councillor Dave Fitzpatrick said: "I'm told we're taking them off to a safe pool where we can feed them lots of fish and bring them back fat and happy."

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