Schoolchildren got up close with Weymouth Sea Life Centre's latest residents and helped make them feel at home.

Classes from four different primary schools in the Weymouth and Dorchester areas have become ‘Fairy Penguin Guardians’ after a visit to the attraction.

The colony of Europe’s only Fairy Penguins moved into their new state-of-the-art enclosure in May and required ten nest boxes for the penguins to pair up and potentially breed in.

The Wareham Area Men’s Shed Association was commissioned to build the bespoke boxes and work began in July.

The boxes were presented to the children during a talk with penguin expert, aquarist Joanna Mullen.

She explained all about the world’s smallest penguins and how the boxes will provide a cosy and safe place for them to raise their future chicks in. The pupils were then asked to design and paint their boxes with themes surrounding habitats, penguin facts, and threats.

Joanna said: “It’s fantastic to have been able to work with these schools and educate them all about our adorable Fairy Penguins. The boxes look great and we’re thankful to those who helped to create and design them.”

The schools which took part were Damers First School, Sunninghill Prep, Broadmayne School and Chickerell Academy.

Edd Moore, Year 3 teacher from Damers First School, said: “The penguin nesting boxes project with Weymouth Sea Life was a great opportunity for the children to learn more about Fairy Penguins. They really enjoyed the talk by penguin keeper Jo Mullen which inspired the children to further their knowledge by researching more at school as well as at home.

"The theme of their nesting boxes was plastic pollution, which linked so well with their plastic campaigns over the last year.

"Damers' Eco Crew decided they wanted to teach visitors to the Sea Life Park about the importance of reducing their single use plastic by writing facts and drawing pictures of marine wildlife being harmed on the boxes.”

Sunninghill Prep School presented their box to their fellow pupils during a ‘Friendship Assembly’.

Mandy Jones, from the school, was delighted they were invited to take part.

She said: “Thanks to the Weymouth Sea Life Adventure Park, Sunninghill pupils had a fantastic opportunity to learn more about conservation, anatomy, habitats and the behaviour of Fairy Penguins.”

The park has invested more than £100,000 into the new enclosure. A boardwalk allows visitors to take a stroll through Fairy Penguin Island and feel like part of the colony.