An independent engineering report has confirmed the Penguin Island Discovery Centre must close in June.

It reiterates previous advice and reveals the centre could be in danger of collapse in high winds.

The Minister for Environment announced the closure in August 2022 with the facility near the end of its structural life.

The State Government’s decision not to rebuild the facility on the island was based on climate change impacting the island’s vulnerable penguin population and following strong feedback from the City of Rockingham, local tourism operators and university researchers.

Swan Region Manager Benson Todd said the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions (DBCA), in partnership with community volunteers and university researchers, will continue to protect more than 300 wild little penguins and other wildlife that use the island for breeding, foraging and nesting.

“Our collaborative management also includes ongoing care for the seven captive little penguins who will permanently leave the island and be integrated into other captive populations on the mainland, when the discovery centre closes permanently on 6 June 2023,” Mr Todd said.

“To be clear, the island itself is not closing. Visitors will be able to continue to catch the ferry to the island and explore it at their leisure. Visitor facilities such as toilets, picnic tables, boardwalks, shade structures and interpretation are being upgraded.”

The State Government is providing up to $250,000 to investigate the feasibility of locating a new facility on the mainland. The feasibility study is being led by Tourism WA in partnership with DBCA and the City of Rockingham.

During summer 2022-23, DBCA closed the island to visitors on seven days when the forecast temperature was 35 degrees or above. This allowed wild little penguins to naturally move from island vegetation into the surrounding waters of Shoalwater Islands Marine Park to cool down or ‘thermo-regulate’, during their moulting period when they are vulnerable.

DCBA will continue to engage with Tourism WA and commercial tour operators regarding a range of tourism experiences in Shoalwater Islands Marine Park and the Rockingham area.

Media contact: DBCA Media 9219 9999

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