It looks like there is a new iceberg in town. Inside, one can find mock gale force winds swirling sea salt spray through the Detroit Zoo’s new penguin exhibit.
Finally open to the public this week, the Polk Penguin Conservation Center is a stunning display that is leaving both penguins and visitors happy.
More than 80 penguins of all shapes and sizes have moved into their spacious new digs within the past few weeks. They inhabit a place that has all the watery chills and thrills of their native Antarctica, without the risk of dangerous predators, and it’s safe to say they’re enjoying it.
The zoo’s spokeswoman Patricia Janeway tells the Detroit Free Press, “Ever since they got here, it’s like they’re jumping for joy. They’re porpoising like crazy – leaping out of the water, then arcing back in — and they’re behaving exactly like we hoped they would.”
The Gentoo, Macaroni, Rockhopper, and King penguins are content in a habitat kept at 37 degrees Fahrenheit with the water at 40 degrees. Visitors watch from galleries kept at a balmier temperature.
The exterior of the building represents a tabular iceberg, with a 25-foot waterfall meant to stimulate melting ice and a crevasse where the berg is beginning to break apart.
Once inside the lobby, excited visitors immediately see a broad topside view of penguins huddling on rocks then descend walkways to view them from under and beside.
There are even blasts of saltwater spray to provide a true penguin sensory experience.
To prevent curious kids from playing with the penguins, the zoo installed high glass walls so kids can see, but not touch. This helps cautious parents feel at ease, as one in every five drowning deaths is a child 14 years or younger.
Even before its official opening, this new penguin center received praise from around the country for its educational mission of expanding the zoo’s offerings to do more than just show the animals.