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Ice sculpture penguins
Photgraph: David Mirzoeff/Greenpeace

This is why there’s a giant penguin ice sculpture by the River Thames

Ellie Walker-Arnott

The Thames has gained some new inhabitants today. Overnight, two penguins crafted out of ice have appeared on the shores of the river, opposite St Paul’s Cathedral. 

They are the work of Greenpeace, which has placed the penguins there to highlight current threats to marine life. They are part of a global call by the organisation for greater action to protect our oceans.

The mother chinstrap penguin, accompanied by her chick, is two metres high and weighs one tonne. 

Photograph: David Mirzoeff/Greenpeace

‘We want to send a clear message to the government and to the public that time is running out to save our oceans,’ said Greenpeace oceans campaigner Chris Thorne. ‘We have seen first-hand how climate change, plastics pollution and industrial fishing are killing marine life in our oceans. A Greenpeace team in Antarctica is reporting that chinstrap penguin populations there are disappearing at an alarming rate.’

London isn’t the only place to welcome these penguins. Thanks to Greenpeace, similar ice sculptures have appeared in public spaces in cities across nearly every continent.

Photograph: David Mirzoeff/Greenpeace

Designed by Icebox, the sculptures sit with the London skyline behind them and will be submerged slowly as the Thames reaches high tide. Eventually the pair will melt away into the river.  

Greenpeace is campaigning for an ‘ambitious’ Global Ocean Treaty, when world leaders meet at the UN next month to discuss the issue. It is hoping for the creation of ‘ocean sanctuaries’ free from human activity that will allow wildlife populations to recover. 

Photograph: David Mirzoeff/Greenpeace

Pop down to see the penguins in front of Tate Modern on the South Bank before they disappear for good. 

This is when the next Extinction Rebellion mass action is coming to London.

Islington introduced London’s first Low Plastic Zone last week.


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