They slip, slide, dip and dive. One waddling behind the other.
Whether they are sliding down the man-made ice hill, or diving into the chilling 326,000 gallon aquarium, it seems as though the King, Gentoo, Macaroni and Rockhopper penguins are enjoying their new digs at the Polk Penguin Conservation Center at the Detroit Zoo.
It’s a sprawling 33,000-square-foot space that houses 80-plus penguins. The facility opens to the public on Monday, April 18. Those who visit can expect to fall in love with the little tuxedo-wearing, tail-shaking birds.
From the time that the automatic doors whisk open, visitors will enter a bright, open area with a floor-to-ceiling window. The soaring ceilings provide ample window space for front row views of the penguin party. Take the ramp to the bottom floor and guests can ‘swim’ with the penguins as they walk through a variety of underwater tunnels.
The facility is a massive upgrade for the penguins, as it provides them 10 times the amount of water than their former habitat at the Penguinarium.
“The penguins are adapting well to their new home and appear to be discovering their many new opportunities for deep diving, porpoising and even sliding in snow,” said Ron Kagan, executive director and CEO of the Detroit Zoological Society (DZS). “We have created a penguin environment centered on conservation that offers an extraordinary and authentic experience for our guests.”
It’s not a coincidence that the building resembles a giant iceberg. It turns out the design team traveled to Antarctica to observe wild penguins in their natural habitat. The facility was designed by Jones & Jones, who also designed the Detroit Zoo’s Arctic Ring of Life and National Amphibian Conservation Center. Also involved, Albert Kahn Associates, architects of the Zoo’s Ruth Roby Glancy Animal Health Complex.
Visiting the facility is free with the purchase of admission. Guests must receive a timed-entry pass upon arrival. Timed-entry passes are provided on a first-come, first-serve basis at admission.
Whether you hop, waddle or shake your way to see the penguins, the Polk Penguin Conservation Center is well worth the trip.