Saturday, October 23, 2010

Oregon Zoo's Colony of Humboldt Penguins

Join the "Penguin Parade," as the Oregon Zoo's Colony of Humboldt Penguins Move

Fri, 10/22/2010 - 5:14 AM
By Bill LaMarche

Portland, OR - Move over polar bears, the penguins are coming! Visitors are invited to wear black and white and join the “Penguin Parade,” as the Oregon Zoo’s colony of Humboldt penguins moves to its temporary quarters in the polar bear exhibit Wednesday, Oct. 27, at 10:30 a.m. The zoo is moving the birds so installation of a new, more efficient, water-saving filtration system can begin. The upgrade to the Penguinarium is one of several projects made possible by a $125 million bond measure passed by voters in 2008.

“We’re inviting the public to help us celebrate the move, and expect they will be as excited to get the bond projects under way as we are,” said Chris Pfefferkorn, Oregon Zoo interim deputy director. “We broke ground on our new Veterinary Medical Center earlier this fall, but the Penguinarium will be our first project to be completed, reopening in late spring.”

The polar bears, which currently have two separate pools, will move into their summer pool, allowing their winter pool to be occupied by the penguins while the penguin exhibit is closed. The winter pool has been modified to meet penguin needs; the most noticeable alterations are a large tarp to protect the birds from the elements and decking material over the concrete, to protect the birds’ feet.

“Penguin Parade” festivities begin at 9:30 a.m. with a penguin hand-puppet craft station for anyone who wants to “be a penguin” in the parade. The local band Sneakin’ Out entertains at 10 a.m. And at 10:30, zoo director Kim Smith, Metro Councilor Robert Liberty and the zoo’s new costumed penguin character will lead the penguin keepers and the penguins (in crates) to their temporary home. The head of the line is reserved for Mochica, the zoo’s visitor-friendly penguin.

In honor of the Humboldt penguins’ Peruvian and Chilean roots, the Cascade Grill will spice up the menu with chicken empanadas and seafood specials featuring the fresh local catch of the week and prepared with a South American flair. For those wanting to take home a cuddly souvenir or a fun toy, plush penguins will be available in the zoo gift shop, along with penguin jewelry and glassware.

The Penguinarium’s current filtration system, installed in 1982, does not operate efficiently. Because penguins eat fish and their feathers are oily, their 25,000-gallon pool is drained and cleaned each week and water runs continuously to the city sanitary sewer. The new system includes a heat exchanger to keep water cool, strainer baskets and sand filters to remove feathers and debris from the pool, and an ozone tank to kill harmful bacteria. The zoo expects to save 80 percent of the water currently used –– millions of gallons every year. Water quality and clarity will also be improved with the new system.

“We want the zoo be an example of the latest thinking in sustainable design,” Pfefferkorn said. “We’re looking at ways to save water and energy in every new exhibit and across the entire zoo.”

The zoo is a service of Metro and is dedicated to its mission of inspiring the community to create a better future for wildlife. Committed to conservation, the zoo is currently working to save endangered California condors, Washington’s pygmy rabbits, Oregon silverspot and Taylor’s checkerspot butterflies, western pond turtles, Oregon spotted frogs and Kincaid’s lupine. Other projects include studies on black rhinos, Asian elephants, polar bears and bats.

The zoo opens at 9 a.m. daily and is located five minutes from downtown Portland, just off Highway 26. The zoo is also accessible by MAX light rail line. Visitors who travel to the zoo via MAX receive $1.50 off zoo admission. Call TriMet Customer Service, 503-238-RIDE (7433), or visit for fare and route information.

General admission is $10.50 (ages 12-64), $9 for seniors (65 and up), $7.50 for children (ages 3-11) and free for those 2 and younger; 25 cents of the admission price helps fund regional conservation projects through the zoo’s Future for Wildlife program. A parking fee of $2 per car is also required. Additional information is available at or by calling 503-226-1561.

Caption: Children will soon be able to watch the zoo’s Humboldt penguins at their temporary home in the polar bear exhibit’s winter pool. The zoo is moving the birds so installation of a new water-filtration system in the Penguinarium can begin. Photo by Mary Faber, courtesy of the Oregon Zoo.

Oregon Zoo ¨ 4001 SW Canyon Rd. ¨ Portland, Oregon 97221 ¨ 503-226-1561 ¨
To view Oregon Zoo's web page on Zoo and Aquarium Visitor, go to:


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