Detroit Zoo Penguins Get Star Treatment ‘Video’

Detroit Zoo Penguins Get Star Treatment - Video

On April 18, the all-new Polk Penguin Conservation Center will open at the Detroit Zoo after nearly two years of construction.

“Our annual attendance in 2015 was more than 1.4 million visitors,” said Patricia Janeway, zoo spokeswoman. “We expect that number to increase by at least 200,000.”

The new center opens at the zoo April 18 and will be the largest penguin facility in the world.

A number of penguins marched to the new center on Thursday and more than 80 penguins will be on hand when the new facility has its debut in less than two weeks.

The 33,000-square-foot conservatory cost about $30 million and has been under construction for more than a year.

Among the features at the facility is a 326,000-gallon, 25-foot-deep aquatic area where visitors can watch as four different species of penguins explore their habitat.

Two clear acrylic underwater tunnels provide unique views as the birds swim and soar above, around and even below visitors.

After the penguin center is opened to the public, zoo officials are planning 12 after-hours events for its members on April18-21, April 25-28 and May 2-5.

Janeway said the MemberFest will give members exclusive access to the new facility.

“Our membership numbers have already increased by 49 percent” over the last year, she said. “We now have more than 59,000 member households.”

Ron Kagan, Detroit Zoological executive director and CEO, has said people from all over the world are expected to come and see the penguins in their new habitat.

Inside the Polk Penguin Conservation Center, which is shaped like an iceberg, visitors will be surrounded by 4-D effects such as arctic blasts, waves, snow and splitting icebergs.

An east entryway to the penguin center with a descending series of ramps was influenced by Sir Ernest Shackleton’s famous Antarctic expeditions and crossings of the Drake Passage.

The new penguin center also offers habitat designed to encourage the penguins to swim, dive, nest and rear young.