The new Penguin Coast exhibit at the Maryland Zoo in Baltimore is scheduled to open this weekend, Sept. 27 at 10 a.m.
The new exhibit reflects the South African home of these endangered unique costal birds and takes visitors into an imaginary fishing camp where penguins dive beneath a pier and perch on rocky outcroppings. The new exhibit will allow guests to get closer than ever to the penguins and will change the landscape and feel of the zoo.
The old Rock Island penguin home built in the 1960s has been replaced by the new exhibit, which looks like a makeshift fishing camp erected on a small island surrounded by water. The building is actually not a fishing camp at all but a state-of-the art facility for penguin housing, breeding and care and will serve as a center of animal operations for the new exhibit.
Located between Polar Bear Watch and African Journey, the new habitat is right in the center of all the other zoo exhibits.
“One of the most thrilling experiences at Penguin Coast will be the opportunity to see the penguins swimming from an underwater viewing area,” commented Don Hutchinson, president/CEO of The Maryland Zoo. “The overall design will allow visitors to see the penguins closer than ever from many distinct vantage points around the exhibit.”
Penguin Coast includes an interpretive building with a multi-purpose room for education programs and animal demonstrations, restrooms, indoor space for special events, the underwater viewing window and view of a tidal pool where a dump tank will periodically unload gallons of water creating a wave-like effect for the birds. A Blowhole will occasionally shoot water in to the air to cool off visitors who don’t mind getting wet.
New bird exhibit and flamingos
Also opening Sept. 27 is the Zoo’s Marsh Aviary in the Maryland Wilderness, which has been undergoing major renovations since late winter to repair damage from the twin blizzards of 2010. The zoo’s flock of 13 flamingos will also return the same day. The flamingos will be moving from the Main Valley, where they could not be viewed by the public, to a newly designed space along the African Boardwalk.
The zoo will close for four days (Sept. 23-26) leading up to the Penguin Coast debut to allow for last-minute exhibit cleanup. For details visit marylandzoo.org.