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King penguins in Tierra del Fuego

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A number of king penguins, whose colonies have previously not been found further north than the South Georgia islands and Antarctica, may have made Chile’s Tierra del Fuego their home. The sixteen or so penguins have stayed on a beachfront piece of private land for the whole of 2011, raising hopes that they may create a new colony. The location, 15km south of the crossroads with the turn-off for Onaisín along the coastal road, is to be accessed via Estancia San Clemente, and not the neighbouring Estancia Tres Hermanos. The two estancias own land next to one another, and Estancia Tres Hermanos has been letting visitors cross its territory, some of whom have subsequently trespassed on the San Clemente land and frightened the penguins by getting too close to them.

The owners of San Clemente are working together with a Punta Arenas-based interest group keen to study the penguins’ behaviour. Visitors coming by car will see the sign for Parque Pinguino Rey and the CH$12,000 entry fee must be paid at the trailer. Penguin-viewing tours are run by several companies from Punta Arenas though it makes for a very long day trip.

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