Penguins are a hit around the world
African penguins gather at the end of the afternoon at Boulders Beach June 29,2010 in Simon's Town, South Africa.
PAULA BRONSTEIN, GETTY IMAGES
The Penguin Encounter, which opened at Sea World in 1983, is home to nearly 300 penguins, including members of the Emperor, King, Adelie, Gentoo and Macaroni species. Visitors can access it on foot or by moving platform. The hourlong Penguin Experience Tour takes observers behind the scenes to meet an aviculturist and interact with a penguin.
MORE INFORMATION: 800-257-4268 or seaworld.com
The Oamaru Blue Penguin Colony offers a low-key experience with the smallest penguin species. Daytime and nighttime tours of a breeding colony are offered. The center allows interaction with penguins. During the day, information boards explain the life cycle of the penguins along a 20-minute self-guided walk. In the evening, visitors can watch the penguins swim back to shore, holding on to each other in "rafts."
MORE INFORMATION: penguins.co.nz
The Spreewelten Sauna & Spa Paradise Lübbenau offers visitors a chance to swim in a pool adjoining a tank containing Humboldt penguins. A 12-meter-long glass wall separates human and avian swimmers. Visitors are invited to bring a diving mask and interact with the curious birds underwater. There is also an observation deck for those not keen on getting wet. At 11 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. daily, keepers answer questions while they feed the penguins.
MORE INFORMATION: spreewelten-bad.de
Penguins swim in boulder-strewn inlets in Table Mountain National Park. At Boulder Beach and Foxy Beach, visitors can watch them from a platform or swim with them in relatively calm, sheltered waters. The raised platform is a few meters from the large colony. Penguins walk freely in the area, including on sidewalks and across streets.
MORE INFORMATION: sanparks.org
In an effort to keep its King penguins trim during the winter, the Asahiyama Zoological Park takes them on a 500-meter walk twice a day through the zoo. The half-hour strolls take place from December until the snow melts, as the penguins are unable to walk on other surfaces. The winter exercise program has been in place since 2003. The zoo is known for unusual facilities, including a long transparent tunnel through the penguin aquarium. The 360-degree view allows visitors to observe behavior like swimming technique and underwater stealth. On Hokkaido Island, Asahiyama is the northernmost zoo in Japan.
MORE INFORMATION: asahikawa-tourism.com
This archipelago in the South Atlantic Ocean, known primarily as the object of a war between Argentina and Britain in the '80s, is also home to the world's largest concentration of Rockhopper penguins. With five species, the islands have the most diverse penguin population outside of Antarctica – more than a million birds in all. King and Gentoo penguins reside here year-round, while the Magellanic, Macaroni and Rockhopper species are migratory, spending the austral summer in the islands. Visitors can travel to Gypsy Cove to see the Magellanic penguin colony, or to Volunteer Point to see the largest accessible King penguin colony. January is the best time to visit, when chicks are hatching.
MORE INFORMATION: falklandislands.com