Wednesday, 11 May, 2022

Record breaking penguins and rats; a new Filippino president from an old political family; fake election signs in Sydney; and Big Sheep gets a serious haircut.



Little Penguins on parade:

Fake election signs:

Big Sheep gets a haircut: 

Sensational World of Civics – Episode 2: What’s an election?

Squiz Kids for Schools:

Squiz Kids Apple Subscriber Content: 






How often do you get asked what you want to be when you grow up? Well, Squiz Kids is here to help, with news of two jobs that might be of interest to animal lovers. We’re starting here in Australia, with the people whose job it is to count Little Penguins. Little Penguins is a proper noun—capital L, capital P—because it’s the name of the smallest species of penguin in the world. The biggest colony of Little Penguins in the world is on Phillip Island, about a 90 minute drive from Melbourne. Every night at sunset, a parade of penguins waddles out from the ocean and home to their burrows. Careful counters monitor how many penguins come ashore every day, and they’ve been working extra hard lately keeping track of record-breaking numbers of penguins! The counters say the increase in penguin numbers, to more than 5,000 each night, is probably due to efforts to protect their habitat and eradicate foxes, who like to prey on penguins. And La Nina, which has brought lots of rain, has also ensured there’s lots of delicious penguin food close to shore, so they come home more often. 


And while our friends on Phillip Island are all about protecting penguins, New York City is in desperate need of new ideas to deal with their exploding rat population. Rodents have always been a problem in the Big Apple, but the first four months of this year have seen record calls to the city’s hotline … rats are stealing food from outdoor restaurant tables; they’re treating rubbish bins as buffets; people are stepping on them on the street, or riding over them with their bikes. Yeuch. The city is experimenting with new kinds of bins; sniffer-and-hunter dogs; traps using anything from vinegar to dry ice; but really, they could use some help. Cute Little Penguin counter, or rat attacker… What would you prefer? 



Each day, we give the world globe a spin, and find a news story from wherever it stops. And today we’ve landed in the Philippines, where a new president has been elected in a landslide. His name, Ferdinand Marcos, might sound familiar to your parents and teachers … that’s because he’s the son of Ferdinand Marcos Senior, who was the Filipino president from 1965 to 1986. For much of those 21 years, Daddy Ferdinand was a dictator, and his rule over our Southeast Asian neighbours was infamous – that means famous in a bad way – for its corruption and brutality. 

Now obviously kids don’t have to behave like their parents, but Ferdinand Junior’s campaign was one that got Squiz-E the Newshound’s nose twitching … He and his supporters spread a lot of disinformation about what life was like under Ferdinand Senior to help win votes. Protests against the return of the Marcos family to the Presidency have already started, so watch this space. 



Ah, there’s Squiz-E — he must have heard me talking about him! He’s sniffed out some other election disinformation that’s a lot closer to home. Last weekend, fake posters started appearing in Sydney electorates where independents are trying to get elected to Federal Parliament on May 21. Independents in politics are people who are not affiliated with any political party. The Australian Electoral Commission has launched an investigation into the fake posters, which are copies of real posters , so they look familiar… but with ADDED false information. For example, a fake poster about Zali Steggall, who is a NSW independent politician running for reelection, claims she is connected to the Greens party. She is not.

Of course, Squiz-E knew to stop, think, and check. If someone is independent, they can’t belong to a party as well. That doesn’t make sense! So he checked Zali’s Facebook page, and saw that she—as well as the Greens —had said it wasn’t true. Similar unauthorised signs, which are illegal, have popped up in four NSW electorates, and one in Victoria. Elections really do seem to bring out the worst in some people, don’t they?




And so we head to Western Australia, where a merino sheep who managed to avoid getting a haircut for seven whole years has finally gotten a chop. Big Sheep, as he is affectionately known, wandered off into the bush when he was just a lamb, and although he’s been spotted a few times since 2015, it was only recently that farmer David Cox finally found his lost lamb, and got all 100kg of him into the shearing shed. Onlookers crowded around—I’ll put a link in your episode notes—as Big Sheep lost a whopping 22.2kg in fluffy wool. Considering that the average sheep gives up just four-and-a-half kilos of wool when it’s shorn each year, that’s quite a fleece! I could use a new jumper this winter…


This is the part of the podcast where you get to test how well you’ve been listening …

1. Phillip Island and New York City have each seen a big increase in certain animal populations. Which animals? 

  1. Which country has a new president, the son of a former, corrupt, president? 
  2. What’s the name of the merino who lost 22.2kg in the shearing shed? 





It’s May 11 .. National Eat What You Want Day in America. Maybe I’ll have ice cream for breakfast… oh no, wait, there’s an Ice Cream for Breakfast Day too, on the first Saturday in February each year. I guess I’ll have to have breakfast for dinner instead. 


It’s also a special day for these Squiz Kids celebrating a birthday today … 

Erin from Vermont South, Lucy from Launceston, Annabella from Yass, Sophie, Henry and Clare from Queanbeyan and Ayaan from Canberra.


And belated birthday wishes go to… Archie from City Beach and Evie from Underdale.


Classroom shout outs go to…Class 2G and Miss Green at  Ambarvale Public School, Grade 5 and Mr Zahra at St Andrew’s Catholic College in Cairns, class 6W from Villa Maria Catholic Primary School in Sydney and year 5/6F and Miss Flower at Macleay Primary School.


The S’Quiz Answers:

  1. Little Penguins and rats
  2. The Philippines
  3. Big Sheep (appropriate, huh?)