Delightful Netflix series reveals lives of penguins at Cape Town’s Boulders Beach
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Pretoria - “There are a lot of movies about penguins ... and then there’s these birds … meet the endangered African penguin.”
This is the opening line of the new documentary series filmed in South Africa which began on Netflix this week.
Titled Penguin Town, the eight-part series was filmed around Boulders Beach in Simon’s Town, and dives in to tell the story of its jackass penguin colony as they search for mates, food and shelter for breeding.
Boulders, which falls under SANParks Table Mountain National Park Marine Protected Area, is home to an estimated 1 000 breeding pairs which mate, nest and rear their chicks from November each year.
It is also one of Cape Town’s most most popular tourist attractions and those who have been there will known how special it is to get up close to the penguins, sitting on the beach or granite boulders as they waddle past, or viewing them from the boardwalk which winds through the dunes and vegetation.
The series hones in on a number of penguin families to tell their story, with each given a name; there are the Bougainvilleas (an established couple); the Culverts (a new couple), Lord and Lady Courtyard, along with other characters such as young misfit Junior and the Car Park Gang.
While there are reminders of the very real threats to the penguins – including from Cape fur seals, seagulls after their eggs, and rising temperatures due to global warming – there are no grim scenes to terrify younger viewers.
Penguin Town is a co-production between US based company Red Rock Films (owned by Brian Armstrong) and South African production house Red Rock Films International (owned by Cayley Christos and Alexander Sletten).
The humorous narration is provided by American comedian, Patton Oswalt.
According to information released by Netflix, the team monitored 80 nests across the area, narrowing it down to 50 pairs they followed closely during eight months of filming, and Christos has been quoted as saying that watching the penguins was “like watching a reality show like Love Island”.
While living among people and cars is clearly not easy for the flightless birds, they seem to be used to it and are clearly loved by the locals and visitors to the town.
This series is enchanting viewing but, as with other nature documentaries, there is also a message in how we live alongside wildlife and must do our best to protect them and ensure their survival.