Home to largest penguin colony in Aquarium’s history to receive final round of important updates

Penguin Island, home to Adventure Aquarium’s largest-ever group of African penguins, entered the second and final phase of construction, Aquarium officials announced today. The open-air exhibit, built in 1998, contains 17,000 gallons of water and a 20-foot underwater viewing window. The first phase of renovations was completed last summer.

“Guests definitely saw a happy group of birds, which were more playful and active, return to their new home last July,” said Vince Nicoletti, Vice President and Executive Director of Adventure Aquarium. “We believe these final renovations will only add to our guest’s already enhanced experience when visiting our African penguins next spring. At the same time, we know the improvements to Penguin Island will provide these animals with the absolute best habitat where they can thrive when they are on and off exhibit.”

The 35 penguins were moved off exhibit to a behind the scenes location during the last phase of construction. However, plans are in place to ensure one of the most popular animals at the aquarium will still be available to guests.

“During renovations, we wanted to make sure our guests could still see and visit the fan-favorite African penguins,” said Nicoletti.  “We’ll have additional up close opportunities throughout the day at Discovery Deck in Zone B where guests can easily see them.  Guests can also visit our little blue penguins in Zone A.  Our popular Penguin Encounter, which allows guests a personal, behind the scenes experience will also be available on weekends.

Penguin Island construction will focus on back of house area improvements, including the penguin holding area doubling in square footage, the addition of an indoor pool to provide the birds access to swim when on or off exhibit, the creation of new nesting locations for penguin pairs to encourage breeding as well as new HVAC and LSS (life support system). To further mirror the natural environment in South Africa, the pools will also be converted to saltwater. Guests will also notice changes to the exterior of the exhibit with the addition of a new thematic façade, a shade structure for the penguins and interpretative signage.

“We hope these changes to our African penguin exhibit, both behind the scenes and guest facing, will continue to encourage our largest-ever colony to continue to grow,” said Nicoletti. “We are proud to participate in the Association of Zoos and Aquarium’s (AZA’s) African penguin Species Survival Plan (SSP), a program that encourages zoos and aquariums to work together to help ensure the survival of African penguins through a scientifically-controlled breeding program. As we look ahead following these important renovations and changes, we are optimistic that we’ll introduce many new hatchlings to our guests for years to come.”

Construction will continue through the winter months with an official reopening of the new and improved Penguin Island in the spring of 2018. The renovations to Penguin Island are just part of many new additions to be realized at Adventure Aquarium in the coming year, with details to be announced in the near future. Guests are invited to visit and follow AAQ’s social media accounts for Penguin Island construction and other updates.