Our African penguins are back on exhibit after a year-long refurbishment, and we couldn’t be more excited to welcome them back. Penguin Park is a project that we at Adventure Aquarium have been dreaming about for years and we are thrilled to finally share this outdoor space with all of you. Let me give you a little backstory.
As you know, Adventure Aquarium has always been committed to the welfare and stewardship of our animals, particularly as an AZA-accredited institution. Fundamentally, we settled on the idea of using this outdoor space as a place to explore, play and connect. We wanted to make Penguin Island more interactive for the largest colony of African penguins in our history and more engaging for our guests. With a new rock formation and more interactive water features, the penguins would be able to dip and dive with ease. And with a re-vamped underwater viewing area and more penguins in the water, guests would get closer to more of these amazing animals than ever before.
While the front of the exhibit that our guests see definitely changed, a majority of our work was done behind the scenes. We added a 40-square foot building, doubling the square footage from the previous Penguin House, and added an indoor pool, one-of-a-kind nesting areas for our penguin pairs to encourage comfort while nesting, a penguins-only ramp for entering and exiting the exhibit, upgraded our filtration system to switch to salt water, added a separate food prep kitchen, and heated the decking the penguins walk on inside the exhibit to better control their climate.
Much like a heated floor in your bathroom or driveway, we added all of the extra features when designing this exhibit. While this may be mostly behind the scenes, we are working on ways to pull this story through to our guests, because it is important to us.
As the project continued to grow into a reality, we decided to include a soft play area next to Penguin Island for young minds to explore. We aptly named it Explorers Cove. We thought, “If this is truly a place to explore, play and connect for our penguins than it should be the same for our young guests.” The addition of a soft play area doubles down on our commitment to making this a family-friendly area where our guests can enrich their day.
When all was said and done, we put all of our ideas down on paper and what we saw was a park. A park is a gathering place for families outdoors situated in your neighborhood or local community, but ours had actual penguins! So we added additional outdoor seating and named the space Penguin Park. Penguin Park is a place where guests can learn about penguins as our colony only continues to grow (the penguins you will see starting March 24th will be Adventure Aquarium’s largest colony yet at 38 birds) and have a picnic while your children play close-by. We hope that this space will be a great spot for our guests to create lifelong memories.
We can’t wait for your family to visit Penguin Park and explore, play and connect not only with our African penguin colony but with each other as well.