Penguins Waddle to the Minnesota Zoo
“3M Penguins of the African Coast”
Apple Valley, MINN – July 5, 2011 – In just days, the Minnesota Zoo will be home to what is arguably one of the most popular animals in any zoo or aquarium: penguins.
Opening July 9, 3M Penguins of the African Coastwill feature 18 African penguins in a brand-new habitat. For the first time, Minnesota Zoo guests will be able to experience these amazing aquatic birds eye-to-eye, above and below water, in a replica of their spectacular, wild habitat on South Africa’s famed Boulders Beach.
Said Minnesota Zoo Director/CEO Lee Ehmke: “The new 3M Penguins of the African Coast promises to be another significant addition to the Minnesota Zoo. As the first of a planned series of social animal exhibits in our multi-phase Heart of the Zoo project, the addition of penguins will go a long way toward our goal of increasing the ‘density and intensity’ of the guest experience at the Zoo. The exhibit will also continue the Zoo’s commitment to conservation, as we will be participating in the African Penguin Species Survival Plan, focused on growing the population of this species, which has been declining rapidly in the wild.”
The penguins will live in an area previously known as the Minnesota Zoo’s Indoor Theatre. The space was renovated as part of “Heart of the Zoo–Phase One,” a $20 million, multiphase project
which also included a new entrance, Target® Learning Center, and the Cargill Environmental Education Center, now open at the Zoo.
Penguins of the African Coast – Exhibit Highlights:
- 2,000 square foot exhibit
- 7’ deep pool (15,000 gallons of water)
- Beach and cliffs for nesting; built-in nest boxes for sleeping and breeding
- Over 40 feet of viewing,above and below water, through clear acrylic
- Classroom view into penguins
- Just for kids: rock and compacted sand formation allowing them a nose-to nose experience with the penguins, touchable bronze models, and penguin eggs will be part of the rock formation
- A sound system conveying the penguins’ "braying" sound
- Daily narrated keeper feeding demonstrations
- Two-story realistic landscape mural, highly-detailed rock formations with simulated sea life including shellfish and kelp, creating a replica of South Africa's Boulder's Beach, one of the penguins' most famous natural habitats
African Penguin Facts:
- African penguins (also known as black-footed or "jackass" penguins) live on the South African coast, thousands of miles north of where most people assume penguins live. The waters are very cool year-round, but the air temps vary widely and can be very hot at times.
- African penguins are threatened by over-fishing, pollution (including oil spills), and fluctuating temperatures altering their environment. Exhibit graphics and educational programs will highlight these threats and what is being done to combat them.
- 18 penguins will call the Minnesota Zoo home. The Zoo plans to breed them as part of a Species Survival Plan (SSP).