The Detroit Zoo is set to open what they call the largest penguin facility in the world next week.
The zoo, located in Royal Oak, will reveal the roughly $30-million Polk Penguin Conservation Center to the public after months of renovation and anticipation.
Opening on April 18, the exhibit will house 83 penguins, including four of the 17 species: king, macaroni, rockhopper, and gentoo.
The penguins’ new home is shaped like an iceberg and is 33,000-square-feet with a 326,000-gallon, 25-foot-deep water tank. The exhibit also includes underwater tunnels, which will allow visitors to see the penguins swim above them.
Additionally, the exhibit includes "4-D effects" that will include “polar blasts” and snow.
Dr. Stephanie Allard, director of animal welfare at the zoo, told The Detroit News that the exhibit has a “focus on birds.”
“You have to really think about all the different features and factors that go into the life that they lead. And then you have to think about how you can re-create that and then assess it on an individual level.”
Several penguins traveled to the new facility on April 7:
On the Detroit Zoo's blog, Dr. Ann Duncan, director of animal health for the Detroit Zoological Society, wrote that the new exhibit is "a penguin veterinarian's dream come true."
Duncan wrote several aspects of the new exhibit are designed specifically for the needs of these penguins, including:
- The lighting will have a wider spectrum of wavelengths to better replicate the seasons.
- The flooring is similar to conditions in Antarctica, with cushioning in some places and rocky surfaces in others.
- A large aquatic arena for penguins to swim in, which Duncan says will increase activity levels.
Members of the Detroit Zoological Society can attend several free after-hours events to see the penguins from April 18-21, April 25-28, and May 2-5 from 5 to 8 p.m.
Watch the Detroit Zoo’s virtual animation of the exhibit below: