A visitor path weaves right through Penguin Beach, offering close-up encounters with the animals. Interestingly, this spot is near the site of one of the Zoo’s early penguin exhibits.
One of the key features of Penguin Beach is its enhanced visitor viewing. You’ll see penguins from three different levels: above (at an Aquarium platform and from the playground near the Aquarium), at ground level (while walking on a path through the exhibit) and underwater.
Penguin Beach will be more conducive to breeding than the current exhibit. With African penguins listed as an endangered species, it’s important to ensure healthy, genetically diverse zoo populations.
Photo: Kandace York
Learn more about African penguins at the Zoo's Animal Fact Pages or in this new Zoo video clip -- and be sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel so you'll know when we upload cool new videos.
"The holding building is nearly complete," Dave says, referring to the indoor quarters where the birds will live.
This is an important milestone because some penguins will start moving into the holding building in early March. First will be the new animals arriving from other zoos: six females and three males.
New animals complete a minimum 30-day quarantine when they arrive at the Zoo. During this time, the animals live in quiet, non-stressful surroundings while animal care staff monitors their health: weight, appetite, digestion and activity level. No animal leaves quarantine or comes in contact with other Zoo animals until it has a clean bill of health.
By completing their 30-day quarantine here, rather than at the Zoo's veterinary hospital, the new penguins will already be "at home" when they're cleared to move into the exhibit. This also frees up valuable space at the veterinary hospital to quarantine other animals, because spring is a busy time for new arrivals.
If you live in the Ohio-Michigan region, you already know how rough this winter's weather has been. Dave admits that it's had an effect on the progress of Penguin Beach construction, too.
"When you're working outside and it's minus five degrees, you don't get as much done," he says. "When there's a foot of snow on the ground, you need to move the snow before you can get to work."
This has required many schedule adjustments -- and readjustments -- as the crews work to keep the project moving forward.
One of the next steps in the project is to install pavers around Penguin Beach ("if it ever stops snowing," Dave adds).
Then crews will start building the artificial rock work within the exhibit. They'll create a mold and spray it with a material called Gunite, made of cement, sand and water.
Gunite creates a durable, natural-looking rocky surface. You've probably seen other Gunite structures at the Zoo already, like the Hippoquarium® and some of the animal exhibits in Tembo Trail.
Construction of Penguin Beach will continue right through the winter and into the spring, with Zoo staff looking forward to the May 23 opening just as much as visitors are -- and maybe even a little bit more.
Dave sums it up in five short words. "It's going to be awesome."
Adopt a penguin! Through the Zoo PAL program you'll learn more about the Zoo's penguins. You'll get a nifty gift package, too, including a frame-worthy adoption certificate with a photo of your adopted penguin, and you'll be invited to Zoo PAL Night, after hours at the Zoo, to meet one of "your" penguin's keepers. The Zoo PAL program is sponsored by BP-Husky Refining LLC.
Donations of all sizes are welcome to support Penguin Beach; every dollar will help make it and the new Aquarium the kind of world-class exhibits you've come to expect from your Toledo Zoo. Learn more by emailing Mary Fedderke, or calling her at 419.385.5721, ext. 2074.
story by Kandace York
Feb. 20, 2014