The Assiniboine Zoo will be adding penguins this spring and summer in a new exhibit it calls Penguin Cove, marking the first time the facility will serve as a home to the animals, said officials.
The exhibit will operate for a limited time and is expected to open in early May, said zoo officials.  It will give visitors the chance to get an up-close look at a group of African black-footed penguins. Work is already underway on the penguins’ new home.

The penguins will live in a self-contained penguin ecosystem attached to an updated version of the zoo’s old gift shop. The exhibit will include rock work, nest boxes and ledges as well as underwater and above ground viewing areas.
African penguins won’t be bothered by the spring and summer temperatures. These birds are native to South Africa, and love the heat. Once temperatures drop in the fall, the exhibit will close.
Visitors will be able to learn about the plight of penguins in the wild, and about conservation efforts currently underway.

"The whole idea of it is to raise awareness about penguin conservation.  And what better way to do that than actually give people a personal experience with the animal," said Tim Sinclair-Smith, director of zoological operations at Assiniboine Park.

The new exhibit is added on the tail of the polar bear exhibit as part of the zoo’s ongoing efforts to rejuvenate their facility. It will cost just under $100,000 to bring the penguin exhibit to Winnipeg, which will largely be covered by Hub Horizon Insurance.

"We wanted to sponsor something that was a real community event.  Bringing penguins here is new," said Keith Jordan, president of Hub International Horizon Insurance.

The zoo hopes this kind of partnership will happen again in the future. Sinclair-Smith said, “This enables us to do something like bring a different species in, even if it is in the short term.”