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As dusk fell over Australia’s Phillip Island last week, thousands of tiny black-and-white birds participated in the largest “penguin parade” seen on the island since record-keeping began in the 1960s, with more than 5,200 little penguins (Eudyptula minor) crossing the beach in a single night. 

Phillip Island — known as Millowl to the Indigenous Bunurong people — hosts Australia’s largest colony of little penguins, which is currently about 40,000 birds strong, according to the Penguin Foundation, a group that funds research and conservation efforts on the island. This is the world’s smallest penguin species; the birds grow to be no bigger than about 15.7 inches (40 centimeters) tall, or about the height of a bowling pin, according to The Australian Museum

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