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The Most Amazing Wildlife Crossings Around the World

From doorbells for fish to tunnels for elephants.

Why did the chicken cross the road? Because it was given a helping hand.

With humans having developed and taken over nearly all corners of the earth, many natural wildlife paths have become unusable for animals. From spawning routes and migrations to simple trails used by animals in search of habitats and food, these wildlife crossings have become unsafe for their travelers. 

More awareness has led many places around the world to devise ingenious ways of allowing their animals to go along their natural way without being harmed by or interfered with by people. From fish doorbells to elephant tunnels, some of the following wildlife crossings are nearly too precious for words.

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The Fish Doorbell

WHERE: Utrecht, Netherlands

One of the most unusual wildlife crossings on this list must be the Dutch fish doorbell. Many fish swim upstream every spring to spawn, and in the Netherlands, fish such as the pike swim through the canals and rivers of the city of Utrecht, sometimes all the way into Germany. Alas, there is one particular lock that is not very popular with boats in spring and tends to stay closed, causing a bit of a fish pile-up.

Help came in the form of a camera and the World Wide Web. A continuous live stream on the fish doorbell website allows viewers, once they spot a fish, to press a virtual doorbell, which alerts the lock keeper. When enough fish have had their Internet helpers ring for help, the lock will be opened, and the fish can swim onward to spawn.

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Salmon Canons

WHERE: Washington, USA

Staying with fish, there is another way to transport fish to their chosen location, although this option is not entirely voluntary and gives the fish a whole new and rather surprising experience: being shot across a dam by a canon.

Just like the Dutch pike, salmon swim upstream to spawn and, at times, cross unlikely obstacles themselves, such as wet roads and other barriers, with the help of so-called fish ladders or fish passages. But sometimes, the obstacle is simply too large, such as a dam, and something more powerful is needed, like a canon. Just like the fish doorbell, it works with the help of a human feeding the fish into a tube and then launching it across to the other side.

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Gibbon Rope Bridge

WHERE: Hainan Island, China

Deep in the jungles of China’s Hainan Island, in the South China Sea, lives a critically endangered gibbon species, one of the rarest primate species on earth. Their already endangered lives were thrown further into hardship when a typhoon hit the island in 2014, causing a landslide that opened up a wide chasm in the middle of the forest. A gap too wide for the apes to cross. But local conservationists threw them a lifeline or two. Quite literally. Two ropes were strung across the canyon, allowing the gibbons to walk or swing across the chasm to the other aide.

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Penguin Underpass

WHERE: Oamaru, New Zealand

Who doesn’t love a penguin, and especially a little Blue Penguin? Not even a foot tall and weighing in at around three pounds, these little penguins live quite happily in Ooamaru, on New Zealand’s South Island. But when it comes to crossing a road, which they are more likely to do in the evening or at night, their little lives are in danger. But now they have a 30-foot tunnel leading a safe way under the road, just high enough for them to stand upright and waddle on through.

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Red Crab Bridge

WHERE: Christmas Island

Christmas Island is a tropical island south of Indonesia in the Indian Ocean and an Australian territory with turquoise water lapping against white beaches and a population of around 1,500. It would prove a quiet idyll if it wasn’t for the 120 million (yes, million) red crabs that live on the island, across the rainforest floor.

Until October, the crabs stay largely out of sight until all 120 million crabs simultaneously get up and head towards the beaches to procreate. And, while traffic is not necessarily dense, the roads can still quite literally turn red with crabs, and driving becomes unpleasant for crabs and drivers alike. So, a bridge was built, a sturdy bridge capable of holding hundreds of thousands of crabs at once to allow their safe passage to the beach.

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Elephant Tunnel

WHERE: Isiolo, Kenya

It is easy to believe that mostly small animals need our help, but even the largest land mammal, the African elephant, can do with a hand sometimes. You’d think, cars stop when they see an elephant in the road, but not necessarily so. Be it speeding, inattention, or simply bad light, roads can have a negative impact on traditional migration routes that elephants follow instinctively, cars or no cars. To help elephants get across the busy Meru-Nanyuki highway, the LEWA Wildlife Conservancy group built an extra-large underpass to provide them safe passage.

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Bear Under and Overpasses

WHERE: Banff, Canada

Many delighted drivers stop alongside the roads that cross Banff National Park to spot the diverse wildlife that can often be seen from the road. But while this might delight tourists, the wildlife would much rather be left in peace. To lessen the impact of the busy thoroughfares, Parks Canada has built many structures to help keep the disruption to wildlife crossings as low as possible. Banff National Park has in total 44 wildlife crossing structures, of which six are overpasses and 38 are underpasses, including a wonderful bear tunnel that crosses the Trans-Canada highway. This bear tunnel is reportedly a veritable tunnel of love, with bears crossing through on their way to find a mate.

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Turtle Tunnels

WHERE: Nara Prefecture, Japan

Crossing a road when you’re a small turtle can take a long time. Now, try and think of a turtle attempting to cross a railway track. In Japan, when a high-speed train hurtles in the direction of a slow-moving turtle, disaster is bound to strike. Not only have countless small turtles fallen victim to Japan’s rail network, but the little reptiles have reportedly caused some 13 train disruptions over the years. So, the West Japan Railway has set out to provide tiny little turtle tunnels that allow the mini turtles to navigate the tracks safely.

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Squirrel Bridge

WHERE: Longview, Washington

Sometimes, the solutions for allowing animals to cross a road safely are useful, innovative, and even ingenious. When it comes to the adorably named Nutty Narrows Bridge in Longview, spanning Olympia Way, there is a lot of love evident in the detail. Designed like a tiny suspension bridge for squirrels, the 60-foot long bridge was first constructed in 1963 but had to be rebuilt regularly over the decades, once because the trees the bridge was suspended from fell afoul of the road expansion themselves. Clearly loving their squirrels, Longview also holds an annual squirrel fest and takes visitors on a squirrel bridge walking tour because there is more than one squirrel bridge in town.

10 OF 10

Koala Crossings

WHERE: Queensland, Australia

Driving through Australian territories where koalas are found, you often see warning signs that read: koalas crossing, but that hardly makes it safe for these adorable and sadly endangered species. To help, there are now specially designed koala crossings, from culverts to bridges, which hopefully reduce the number of road deaths.

What is noticeable and special about these crossings, though, is the presence of V-shaped tree trunks or purpose-built poles nearby. Koalas cannot go far without needing a little rest, and they love to squeeze themselves into a fork between two branches for a night of sleep before or after crossing a road.