Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Love On The Rocks

Pepper, Chaos and Paulie await the arrival of nesting rocks at the Tennessee Aquarium.

Paulie and Chaos, the role model penguin parents who successfully raised Pepper last year, are expected to remain together. They are frequently observed guarding the site where they nested last year. Pepper is often seen standing nearby. In the wild penguins are monogamous for the breeding season, but may pair up with a different mate the following season, said Ms. Graves. Penguins on exhibit frequently remain mates for life. It appears as though Chaos and Paulie have a very strong bond.

Ms. Graves anticipates that most of the gentoos will pair up with the same mates again this season, but there are a few twists to watch. I've seen Blue courting Flower which is a little strange. But when this happens, Nipper will waddle over and interrupt them and chase Blue off, said Ms. Graves.

The macaroni storylines could become as interesting as any reality show on television. You never know about the macaroni pairs until the last minute, said Ms. Graves. The wild card is always Hercules. He's our largest macaroni and all the little females absolutely adore him. In fact, all the macaroni females have been seen standing with him at one time or another. Visitors may want to check the flipper band color chart frequently to see which lady ends up with the dashing Hercules. His favorite, the one he seems to stand most often with, is Shamrock, said Ms. Graves. He was with Sweet Pea last year, but she's been seen a lot with Merlin lately. So who knows?

While the first rocks will be given to the penguins on Thursday, this process will take several weeks according to Dave Collins, the Aquarium's curator of forests. We are going to use nesting platforms this year, said Mr. Collins. This will allow us to keep the exhibit cleaner without disturbing the birds. It will also help keep the nests separated and away from the narrow points of the walkway. Those locations were challenging for keepers to travel last season.

Macaroni penguins don't reach reproductive maturity until they are nearly five years old. So to Pepper, the Aquarium's first penguin chick from last season, the rocks will be new toys. I think she'll enjoy playing around with the rocks. She'll see the other penguins building nests and she'll know she is supposed to be doing something, but she won't quite understand the method behind the madness so to speak, said Ms. Graves.

Visitors can expect to see nest building and courtship activities for about the next six weeks. If the birds are successful, the first eggs may appear at the Tennessee Aquarium around the middle of May.

Survival Rate for Adelie Colony Down This Year

Late breeding season for Cape Bird Adélie colony

The Cape Bird Adélie penguin colony experienced a late breeding season which is thought to have led to a high mortality rate for chicks this summer despite good foraging conditions. The timing of breeding is critical for the Adélie penguin, especially for those breeding at colonies on Ross Island at the southern extent of the bird's range. Winter comes early for the Cape Bird Adélies and by the end of January the chicks need to be self-sufficient, the adults need to recover condition, moult, and travel north before McMurdo Sound re-freezes.

Each year an aerial survey is conducted by Phil Lyver and his team at Cape Bird. This year the survey was delayed to coincide with the first incubation shift when the male is sitting on the eggs and the female is at sea foraging. At this stage of the breeding cycle an accurate picture of the active breeders can be obtained and can be utilised in a long term database of the Cape Bird population. Phil Lyver and his team are working to understand the cause of the shift in the breeding cycle.

Newsletter of Antarctica New Zealand

Image of the Day

Monday, March 29, 2010

Image of the Day

Fears for penguins under pavilion

Fears for penguins under pavilion
Penguin warden Angelika Treichler near the refurbished Dressing Pavilion at Manly Cove. Picture: VIRGINIA YOUNG

Can the Dressing Pavilion and the penguins exist happily side-by-side? 
 24 Mar 10 @ 05:22pm
PENGUIN warden Angelika Treichler fears nearby penguin nesting sites will be adversely affected by the large number of patrons who will frequent the newly-opened restaurant in the Dressing Pavilion at the western end of Manly Cove.

Pavilion lessee John Codling said the penguins thrived during the redevelopment of the building and Ms Treichler agrees with him. But she said this was because of the efforts of the penguin wardens and the fact no building work took place at night, which is when the penguins come ashore to feed their young. “We are yet to see what will happen to this critically endangered colony when there are hundreds of patrons from the licensed venue hanging out just at the time when the penguin parents come on land to feed their chicks,” Ms Treichler said. “The lack of adequate CCTV surveillance will make it very difficult to follow up any incidents, especially late at night or in the early hours of the morning, when the hard-working volunteer wardens will have gone home.”

Mr Codling said every effort will be made to ensure the colony continues to thrive. “We will do whatever we can at a management level to mitigate any potential effects on the Manly colony,” he said. “Already our management plan includes nominating a member of staff each week to become a penguin warden to make it their duty to ensure the penguins are well looked after. “We’ve also implemented measures to ensure we are good neighbours of the penguins by having dim lighting, no loud music and a no-smoking policy throughout the venue.”


Hoiho penguin breeding program a success

Penguin breeding programme a success

There are 16 yellow-eyed penguins nesting at Sandfly Bay 
There are 16 yellow-eyed penguins nesting at Sandfly Bay
Wed, 17 Mar 2010 5:29p.m.
By Samantha Hayes
Conservationists in Dunedin are claiming victory in their bid to increase the numbers of the endangered yellow-eyed penguin.
They have introduced strict new rules for human visitors, who were probably just as much to blame for the penguins’ decline as marauding cats and dogs. For the Department of Conservation and the Yellow-Eyed Penguin Trust, Sandfly Bay is a key breeding location – but not everyone keeps their distance. “People following penguin tracks up into the sand dunes to try and take photos of them on their nests, interfering with them when they were coming in from the sea,” says DoC Community Relations Manager Dave Mules.
There are 16 yellow-eyed penguins nesting at Sandfly Bay.

Research carried out into why the chicks were underweight and dying found that they were easily panicked by people. “If approached by just one person the penguin’s heart rate doubles and it may take up to half an hour for it to drop back to a previously measured resting heart rate,” says penguin researcher Ursula Ellenburg.
If tourists scare the adult penguins on the beach when they’re returning with fish in their croups for their chicks, they’ll head back out to sea and digest the foot – leading to underweight chicks.

DoC volunteers are urging sightseers to keep their distance, which seems to be working. “This season has been particularly pleasing – we’ve had 13 chicks at very healthy weights,” says Mr Mules. A few beaches across from Sandfly Bay, DoC discovered a dead penguin. “It’s banded so we’ll find out if it’s one of a pair and go from there, but it’s a huge problem,” says Yellow-Eyed Penguin Trust Ranger, Leith Thomson.
Only one or two wash up a year, but hopefully this death will be balanced out by the success at Sandfly Bay.


Doc asks dog owners to respect moulting penguins

Doc asks dog owners to respect moulting penguins

Dog owners are being asked to take extra care with their animals on the Otago coastline over the next two months as penguins come ashore to moult. Moulting is the period of time spent ashore annually when penguins shed their waterproof coat of feathers and grow a new set. It can take up to a month and birds lose up to half their body weight through normal metabolism while they cannot feed in the sea.

The Department of Conservation said dogs were a particular threat at this time, as penguins were often close to shore on beaches and had little energy for defence. One penguin had already fallen victim to a dog attack south of Brighton last week, which Doc biodiversity ranger Mel Young described as a "tragedy".

The Yellow-eyed Penguin Trust put up signs to warn people penguins were moulting in the Dunedin area, and instructing them to keep their dogs under control. Doc also reminded people harassment by people or dogs could result in penguins fleeing the area, possibly for the sea, which could have disastrous consequences.

The public was encouraged to call Doc on 0800 362 468 if they saw injured or moulting penguins, particularly if humans or dogs were threatening them.


Sunday, March 28, 2010

Feathered Football

Carn the mighty penguins

Football season in penguin playground

Watch penguins at the Melbourne Aquarium have fun in the snow with their toys
THEY might not be able to fly, but football has taken off with the penguins at Melbourne Aquarium.
The waddling wonders will make the aquarium the coolest place to be these school holidays, leading a festival of fun and games.
Penguin stars Skipper and Private, from the movie Madagascar, will greet visitors between noon and 3pm every day of the school holidays as the resident penguins show off their sporting skills.
The Gentoo penguins are given balls to carry and kick, chasing each other around the ice in their own game of footy.
Handler Tristen Bird said the penguins' curious nature added to the fun.
"They are wonderful animals to engage with and they learn very quickly," he said.
"They each have their own personality, so there are some that are more confident and are always the first to front for new games."
The Penguin Party in the aquarium's Antarctica exhibit is part of a year-long celebration of the aquarium's 10th anniversary.
The birds will be run through three different activities each day, with games also to be held off the ice along with special talks and presentations.

Video available here at  Source 

Image of the Day

EFD Gryvitken 22-Feb-10-232
Originally uploaded by efdixon

Friday, March 26, 2010

Dublin Zoo Penguin News

New enclosure at Dublin Zoo aims to help Humboldt penguins to breed


A NEW penguin enclosure designed to encourage the colony to breed has been unveiled at Dublin Zoo.
The enclosure features oversized Donegal sandstone and many tonnes of sand which reflects the natural habitat of the colony of seven male and seven female Humboldt penguins.

Contrary to popular perception, the birds are from South America rather than Antarctica and suffered like the rest of us during the recent cold spell.

Zoo director Leo Oosterweghel said the more naturalised environment would help the colony to breed.
“The inspiration has to come from nature,” he said. “They love burrowing and it is a softer, planted, more pleasant environment. We desperately want to increase the numbers of these birds.”

Mr Oosterweghel said the new glass enclosure would allow for a “nose to beak experience” with a penguin.
The presence of penguins in Dublin Zoo has not been without its dramas.

In 1996, all but one of the colony died in mysterious circumstances which was initially thought to have been caused by toxic paint. The penguins were replaced two years later.

The revamped enclosure is sponsored by McVitie’s who make the Penguin chocolate bars. The company is also sponsoring the new children’s play area adjacent to it.

Dublin Zoo is hosting a penguin-themed treasure hunt this weekend.


Image of the Day

Monumento Natural Los Pingüinos, Isla Magdalena, a 35 km. de Punta Arenas, Chile.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Climate Change Could Be Beneficial to Little Penguins

Climate change good for little penguins

Posted Tue Mar 23, 2010 2:47pm AEDT
Tasmanian Little Penguins in burrow infra red camera August 2008
Little penguins are expected to breed more successfully if sea surface temperatures increase. (ABC News: Andy Wallace)
Research shows that climate change could be good for the little penguin populations in Bass Strait.
A public forum at Ulverstone in north west Tasmania has heard that coastal erosion and climate change will destroy the habitat of many sea birds such as hooded plovers and red-necked stints.

But Peter Dann from the Phillip Island Nature Park in Victoria says penguins that breed in northern Tasmania, Victoria and the Bass Strait islands may benefit from climate change. "Some of the predicted climate change is actually going to be positive," he said. "Penguins, for example, we think are going to breed earlier and probably more successfully if sea surface temperatures in Bass Strait increase."

Mr Dann says more work needs to be done to investigate the sea birds."Even the climate is something that hasn't been completely established yet, what the predictions are for the next 100 years,but for birds, at least, we don't have as good information on the birds as we do on the climate, even so there's a lot of speculation necessary, unfortunately."


Image of the Day

Saturday, March 20, 2010

This Week's Pencognito!

http://pengcognito.com/pengtoons/bdayshots-1.jpghttp://pengcognito.com/pengtoons/bdayshots-2.jpghttp://pengcognito.com/pengtoons/bdayshots-3.jpghttp://pengcognito.com/pengtoons/bdayshots-4.jpgPlease visit Jen and all the *hic* pengies right here!

Gentoo penguins on the march at new exhibit


http://www.standard.net/sites/default/files/imagecache/max_800/2010/03/18/story-19gopenguins-21116.jpg http://www.standard.net/sites/default/files/imagecache/max_800/2010/03/18/story-19gocutepenguins-21118.jpg

Gentoo penguins on the march at new exhibit

By Becky Wright (Standard-Examiner staff)

Last Edit: Mar 18 2010 - 9:13pm

A colony of birds just flew to Utah from Texas, but their wings aren't tired -- they came by airline.
The Gentoo penguins arrived a week ago and are adjusting to their new home at The Living Planet Aquarium in Sandy.

"They are fantastic -- just swimming around and frolicking all over the place," said Angie Hyde, public relations director for the aquarium. "They seem really happy."

"Penguin Encounter," the newest exhibit at the aquarium, opens March 26. There are 17 species of penguins in the world, and aquarium officials chose to showcase Gentoo penguins for a reason. "It completes our 'Journey to South America' exhibit," said Hyde, explaining that Gentoo penguins are native to the Falkland Islands. "The Falkland Islands are just off the southern tip of South America, in between South America and Antarctica, down where it's cold."

"The water in the exhibit, and the air, is kept at about 42 degrees, said Hyde. "They're one of the species that are most active in the water," she said of the penguins, which measure about 20 inches tall and typically weigh 10 to 14 pounds. "Most likely, when you come, you'll see them swimming around quite a bit."

Gentoo penguins can swim up to 17 miles per hour, making them one of the fastest of the penguin species.
"They don't fly in the air, but they fly in water," said Hyde. Their diving techniques, and their ability to pop up out of the water and onto land make them fun to watch. "They're quite noisy, and have kind of a honk," she said.

The exhibit

"Penguin Encounter" is designed to resemble a Falkland Islands research station, where visitors will be able to observe the penguins underwater and on land. "The exhibit will teach all about the physiological aspects of the birds, including why they don't fly in the air, but do fly in water," said Hyde, Visitors will also learn how penguins survive in the cold.

"They have more feathers than any other species of bird," she said. "They have to keep a heavy coat, basically, of blubber and feathers to keep them warm, and their feathers are extremely water-resistant."
Information about what the penguins eat (herring, smelt and capelin), why they molt, their behavior, their environment and predators will also be part of the display. Information about the resident penguins will be updated regularly on a research board.

Great expectations

The penguins at The Living Planet Aquarium were born and raised in captivity. They come from Moody Gardens in Galveston, Texas. "We have a total of 11 penguins," said Hyde. "I believe three of them are chicks, about 6 months old. We have a breeding pair, and the rest are about a year old. We're hoping, with that breeding pair, to get some new baby ones at some point -- that will be exciting."


Penguin life style under scrutiny


Oamaru Blue Penguin Colony marine biologist Philippa Agnew is about to start a research project using data gathered on land and at sea that could help predict future breeding success of blue penguins. Photo by David Bruce

The blue penguins at the Oamaru Blue Penguin Colony quarry site, along with resident marine biologist Philippa Agnew, are about to be part of a three-year research project which could help predict future population trends of the species.

To monitor sea journies to feed, penguins will be fitted with a GPS device or time-depth recorders that will provide data for a research project Ms Agnew is undertaking.

The research is part of the expanded programme at the Oamaru Blue Penguin Colony, and will result in her completing a PhD in marine science. It has been nearly 18 months in the making.
Consultation with local iwi, Department of Conservation and Otago University's animal welfare ethics committee have all taken time.

It took a few months just to sources the data recorders and GPS units suitable for the study, along with planned upgrades and developments at the colony to ensure accurate data collection.
Ms Agnew has a Masters degree in marine science from the University of Otago, for which she researched blue penguins at Pilots Beach, at Taiaroa Head. During her studies she also worked at the Royal Albatross Centre. She came to the Oamaru Blue Penguin Colony in 2006.

"This new project will look at the foraging behaviour of the blue penguins in relation to their breeding and population biology. The data gathered, along with other information such as sea surface temperatures, will provide an insight into how blue penguins' feeding habits relate to breeding, which can then be applied to gauge the possible success of future breeding seasons," Ms Agnew said.

The study will use 10 small GPS recorders which are smaller than a matchbox and weigh about 14 grams. Because blue penguins are small, the units had to be correspondingly small and light, so as not to affect their normal behaviour.

They will record data on where penguins go from the Oamaru colony to feed at sea. Time-depth recorders will also be fitted. They record data on the frequency, depth, and times of dives. They are 32mm long and 8mm in diameter.

When the penguins, a mixture of male and female, return to the colony, the GPS and time-depth recorders will be retrieved, the data downloaded, and the devices refitted to the same penguins.

The data gathered will then be correlated to what is happening on the land in terms of breeding. Population data gathered at the Oamaru colony over 17 breeding seasons since 1993 would also be used to provide a holistic view of how the Oamaru population functions in its ecosystem, both in terms of feeding at sea and breeding on land.

Some similar research has been done on penguins overseas, but Ms Agnew's project will look at the bigger picture generally, and what is going on with blue penguins specifically in Oamaru.


Image of the Day

Originally uploaded by ronalisa

Friday, March 19, 2010

Image of the Day

Rockhopper Penguin
Originally uploaded by aprilmcg
Taken at Rockhopper Point on Sea Lion Island in The Falkland Islands.

This Week's Pencognito!

http://pengcognito.com/pengtoons/getanything-4.jpghttp://pengcognito.com/pengtoons/getanything-1.jpghttp://pengcognito.com/pengtoons/getanything-2.jpghttp://pengcognito.com/pengtoons/getanything-3.jpgPlease visit Jen and all the Pengies here!

You're Invited To a Penguin Splash

You're Invited To a Penguin Splash at The Living Planet Aquarium

Tue, 3/16/2010 - 8:34 AM
By Angie Hyde
Sandy, UT - After months of anticipation, excitement and exhibit building, The Penguin Encounter opens Friday, March 26, 2010 at The Living Planet Aquarium in Sandy, Utah.

There are 17 species of penguins in the world, and The Living Planet Aquarium is happy to welcome Gentoo penguins to Utah! Gentoo penguins live in a cool climate in the Falkland Islands, just off of the south-east coast of South America. They eat fish, love to swim, and live in colonies (or groups of penguins).

The Penguin Encounter exhibit will be home to 11 captive raised Gentoo penguins. When guests enter the exhibit they will find themselves immersed in a “Falkland Island Research Station” where they will have the chance to observe the unique behaviors of these aquatic birds as they splash, dive and "fly" underwater in their naturalistic habitat. On land, penguins are not very graceful, but you’ll soon understand why everyone says these birds really “fly” underwater. With paddle-like wings providing propulsion, and their feet and tail providing steering and braking, these animals will amaze everyone with their agility and speed below the water.

Gentoo penguins can swim up to 17 miles per hour, declaring them the fastest species of penguins.
Guests will also have the opportunity to view these penguins very selectively choosing the best pebbles for nesting materials and mating rituals. The expectation is at some time in the future these pairs will provide hours of fascination when eggs are laid, hatched and baby penguins are reared by their parents. ”We could expect breeding from the adult penguins within a year or sooner. The younger penguins won’t be ready to breed for 2-3 more years” Said Deana Walz, Aviculturist. This will make The Penguin Encounter not only a must see exhibit . . . it will be a “must see again and again” exhibit.

The Penguin Encounter will be a fun and educational experience in several other ways as well. Video displays will teach guests why penguins gave up the skies for the ocean, why penguins molt, and behaviors to look for in the Gentoo colony. Interactive components will include a touch screen that explains why penguins are allowed to live as aquatic animals, and visitors will also be able to compare themselves to life-sized models of several different penguin species. Lively graphics throughout the exhibit will also teach about predators of penguins, and will also include a “research board” with regularly updated information about the resident penguins at the aquarium.

Penguins waddle into our hearts in popular movies and television programs. They adorn our t-shirts, line our bookshelves and appear in our holiday cards. They stand upright and march along in single file. They huddle together when cold, and they swim beautifully. They love to dress formally, and they mate for life (well, sometimes!). In other words, penguins remind us of ourselves. That makes them a natural--and powerful--choice to help explain how the changing climate conditions around us affect our precious wildlife...and us. By bringing excitement and fun to The Living Planet Aquarium, the penguins will help raise awareness of the issues facing these and the other 16 species of penguins in their natural environment. Since penguins are specialized for swimming and diving in the oceans, human-induced changes to their environment affect them more than other seabirds. Oceanic changes worldwide are causing habitat deprivation and decline in penguin populations. The survival of penguins and all other wildlife depends on our ability to protect them and their habitats. ”Unfortunately, 12 out of the 17 species of penguin are experiencing rapid population decline. If we become more aware of our actions, we can help protect the environment so the natural beauty is preserved for our children’s children.” said Walz. If we are successful in protecting the penguins' environment, we are ensuring a healthier environment for ourselves and for our children.

While Gentoo penguins are not endangered, the birds that will be on display at The Living Planet Aquarium are captive raised and are no taken from the wild. These birds will be acquired from Moody Gardens in Galveston, Texas and transported to Utah via air.

Aquarium members will be allowed into the facility 1 hour early at 10am Thursday, March 25 for an exclusive “Members Only Sneak Peek” of the new exhibit. The ribbon cutting ceremony will begin at 10:30am with Brent Andersen, aquarium Founder/CEO, Mayor Tom Dolan, and representatives from the Sandy City Chamber of Commerce. Light refreshments will be served.

The Penguin Encounter is included with regular aquarium admission of $9 adult; $8 senior (65+), military and student (full-time college, with I.D.); and $7 children 3-17. Children under 3 are admitted free of charge. Annual memberships are available. The aquarium is located on 725 E 10600 S in Sandy. It is open Sunday-Thursday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., Friday and Saturday from 10am-8pm. More information about The Living Planet Aquarium is available online at www.thelivingplanet.com; or by calling (801) 355-FISH (3474).
The Living Planet Aquarium is dedicated to celebrating life on Earth by fostering a greater awareness and knowledge of Earth’s diverse ecosystems and creating a deeper understanding of our place in the global system of life.

To view The Living Planet Aquarium's web page on Zoo and Aquarium Visitor, go to:  http://www.zandavisitor.com/forumtopicdetail-128-Living_Planet_Aquarium


Thursday, March 18, 2010

Image of the Day

King Penguins (Aptenodytes patagonicus), Salisbury Plain, South Georgia Salisbury Plain contains the second largest King Penguin (Aptenodytes patagonicus) on South Georgia, with an estimated 250,000 birds during moulting season.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010


It is with great sadness to let you guys know we've lost one of our dearest penguin friends.

Austin was 12 years old and in the wild they live to about 7. He was much loved by the staff, loved education visits and meeting people and often Sue Best (one of our rangers) would bring him up to our offices to meet us all. A sad week for the staff!
Location: International Antarctic Centre, Christchurch, NZ
Source Facebook page

Image of the Day

Monday, March 15, 2010

Lookit ME!

Seal Bomb in Penguin Photo: Real or Photoshop?

by Lloyd Alter, Toronto on 03.15.10

Cute Overload

So many boring pictures of penguins on TreeHugger lately, they have even taken to hipster architect black to get our attention. This one is enlivened by a smiling seal; the alt text on the cute overload posting is "No, I did not photoshop this." We are not so sure.

Our Antarctic correspondent suggests that "to get a seal head at that angle, it'd have to be lying down and roll up into the picture. which it can do. But it'd mean the photographer was right on top of the seal while it was lying down, and that seems really unlikely."

What do you think?

Thank you for voting!
Total Votes: 123

Tanganyika Wildlife Park hopes baby penguins are a hit


The Wichita Eagle

Matt Fouts, assistant director at Tanganyika Wildlife Park , holds two African penguin chicks that were born there in January. They are the first African penguin chicks born in Kansas. The warm-weather penguins currently weigh about four pounds each. Jaime Green/The Wichita Eagle
Matt Fouts, assistant director at Tanganyika Wildlife Park , holds two African penguin chicks that were born there in January. They are the first African penguin chicks born in Kansas. The warm-weather penguins currently weigh about four pounds each.
As the Tanganyika Wildlife Park near Goddard begins its second season, it hopes to draw visitors with new exhibits — and baby penguins.
"We have a lot of the same animals we did last year — a lot of interactive exhibits," said Matt Fouts, assistant director of Tanganyika.
One of the new exhibits this year will allow visitors to feed Indian rhinos. For now, Fouts said, the exhibit is under construction.
Visitors will also get to see the park's new snow leopard exhibit. Last year, the leopards were on limited display.
Fouts said other exhibits that will open this year include the Malayan tapir and warthog.
But perhaps the biggest draw will be the two African penguins that hatched earlier this year.
The chicks, now weighing nearly 4 pounds each, are the first hatched in Kansas, according to Fouts. The penguins, also known as black-footed or jackass penguins, are warm-weather penguins found off the coast of South Africa.
One other baby that may capture people's attention is a 3-month-old right-handed gibbon, a primate that is native to the rainforests of Southeast Asia. The baby's parents, Gilligan and Mary Ann, live on an island at the park.
The park has been operating since 1986 but first opened to the public in August 2008. Last year marked its first full season, and more than 80,000 people visited, Fouts said. It is privately owned and, unlike the Sedgwick County Zoo 13 miles to the northeast, does not receive taxpayer support.
"Our attendance was what we hoped for and expected," Fouts said. "Zoos nationwide saw that people are looking for an economical way to entertain kids or do stuff and they are not taking as many family vacations long distance. They are staying close to home.... We did all right."
One-quarter of the park's exhibits allow visitors to interact with animals.
"The number of interactive exhibits are unprecedented for zoos," Fouts said. "We really try to get people as close as safely possible to the animals so they can experience them — not just see them."
Why allow people that close?
"It's like watching animals on TV — you can see them and that's great, but when you can get a foot from it or come in actual contact, it becomes more personal," Fouts said. "People feel that bond. We strive for people feeling more connected and hope they take up the cross and become more conservation minded, either by wanting to give to our organization to help species or another."