It's a magical sight: Just as the light begins to vanish, thousands of tiny penguins waddle out of the surf on an island in southeastern Australia, then head up the beach and along well-worn paths toward their burrows.

The "penguin parade" has been a major attraction since the 1920s, when tourists were led by torchlight to view the nightly arrival of the birds — the world's smallest penguin breed, with adults averaging 33cm tall — from a day of fishing and swimming.

For much of that time, the penguins lived among the residents of a housing development, mostly modest vacation

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