Penguin chicks could be born at Weymouth Sea Life Centre in the near future.

Four new nesting boxes have been erected in the fairy penguins’ enclosure to encourage them to breed.

The colony of 20 fairy penguins moved to Weymouth Sea Life Centre in May this year from Manly Sea Life Sanctuary in Australia. They’re the only colony of fairy penguins in Europe.

Wareham Area Men’s Shed (WAMS) which formed earlier this year was tasked with building 10 nesting boxes.

The group was given a design brief from Manly Sea Life Sanctuary, which it spent six weeks working towards.

The Echo was invited to Weymouth Sea Life Centre on Tuesday to see the penguins explore the nesting boxes for the first time.

It is hoped the penguins will use the nesting boxes to breed this Autumn.

General Manager of Weymouth Sea Life Centre, Tamsin Mutton-Mcknight, said: “It was really exciting working with WAMS.

“The penguins have been a little bit cautious this morning, so they’ve been in and had a quick look at the nesting boxes and they’re watching what’s going on, but we anticipate they’re going to try them out a bit later today.

“We’re very excited to see what happens next when the penguins use the nesting boxes and hopefully we will be able to talk about penguin chicks soon.

“This is part of a really important breeding project.”

Chris Hockley, member of Wareham Area Men’s Shed, said: “This has been such a brilliant project to be part of and we are really proud to have worked together with Weymouth SEA LIFE to provide the Fairy Penguins with their new nest boxes. This was an unusual project for us to be part of, so we researched and used a similar design from New Zealand, which is where the penguin breed originates from. We hope the penguins will be happy in their new home.

“It was great to see the penguins exploring their new houses and we are so happy to have been asked to create something which will be seen by hundreds of thousands of visitors, for years to come.”

Over the next coming months, Weymouth SEA LIFE will give local school children the opportunity to decorate the nest boxes before they are varnished, with their most creative designs.

The Men’s Shed provides a social space for men of all ages and capabilities to get together to share skills and stories, and to be part of a team working on projects together. There are more than 25 members of the Wareham Area Men’s Shed and they meet twice a week to socialise and create things such as bird and bat boxes, garden tables and other useful items for individuals and the wider community to benefit from.