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Falkland Islands penguins revisit Brunel's SS Great Britain

15th September 2020

Categories: Latest News

Five species of penguin will arrive at Brunel’s SS Great Britain in Bristol this October half term (from 24 October).

The lifelike models are part of a family trail bringing the ship’s incredible homecoming story to life, marking the 50th anniversary of her journey from the Falkland Islands.

The SS Great Britain was brought ‘home’ to Bristol from Sparrow Cove in the Falkland Islands where she had spent 33 years. That salvage was the most ambitious and pioneering ever undertaken, and the 8,000-mile journey was the longest ever under tow. Built by Brunel in 1843, the SS Great Britain was one of the most innovative ships in the world.
New exhibits at the award-winning visitor attraction include the family of penguins and an albatross, bringing the final chapter of the ship’s history to life. Along with two museums, historic dockyard, dry dock and the SS Great Britain, visitors enjoy a safe, full day out.

The SS Great Britain – the world’s first great ocean liner – lay abandoned in the Falkland Islands for 33 years with a colony of penguins and the occasional albatross for company. Sparrow Cove is home to 1,600 Gentoo penguins and is where Brunel’s great ship set off from on her final ‘homecoming’ voyage 50 years ago when she was rescued.

With five species and around a million breeding birds, the Falklands has one of the largest breeding populations of penguins in the world. The islands are also home to the largest breeding population of black-browed albatross – 70% if the global population.

The SS Great Britain spent more time in the Falklands than any place else (84 years in total, including time as a floating cargo store) and, to mark the 50th anniversary of her departure, the visitor attraction in Bristol has added a new exhibit and family trail.

Each visitor (from 24 October onwards) will be given their own ‘Stanley’s Penguin Trail’ – a colourful guide that sets them off on a hunt for penguin eggs, highlighting exhibits and stories connected with the homecoming journey from the Falkland Islands in 1970. They will meet each of the five penguin species along the way as well as a dramatic new exhibit in the museum – a black-browed albatross with a two-metre wingspan. The albatross, which died of natural causes, has been preserved and travelled from the Falkland Islands; a gift from the Falkland Islands Museum and Falkland Islands Association.

The penguin trail – along with an outdoor photography exhibition – are part of a collaboration with support from the Falkland Islands Government and Falkland Islands Association.

A day out at Brunel’s SS Great Britain has been unanimously praised as safe and enjoyable by TripAdvisor reviewers, with trails, one-way routes and warm welcome from staff all frequently mentioned. Tickets and timeslots can be booked online at ssgreatbritain.org, and tickets are valid for unlimited revisits for a year.

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