Thursday, July 18, 2013

Maryland Zoo begins work on new penguin exhibit

The Maryland Zoo in Baltimore broke ground on a new exhibit that will allow it to house up to 100 African penguins.

Posted: 07/17/2013

BALTIMORE - The Maryland Zoo in Baltimore has broken ground on a new penguin exhibit which will eventually allow it to house 100 penguins.

The new $10 million exhibit will encompass 1.5 acres in the middle of the zoo adjacent to current entrance to The African Journey exhibit and is scheduled to open in late 2014 or 2015. Currently, the zoo is home to 47 African penguins.

“This exhibit will be a game-changer for us, and is the most complex project the zoo has undertaken since I began here in 2008," said Don Hutchinson, president/CEO of The Maryland Zoo, in a statement. "Not only will we provide a much richer and diverse living environment for the penguins, our visitors will be able to see and learn about these birds from many vantage points around the exhibit, including in an education building with an underwater viewing window. We could not be more excited to bring this exhibit to the community.”

According to a news release from the zoo, the exhibit will include a 175,000 gallon pool surrounding an indoor conservation center for housing the birds' nest boxes, which in effect is similar to the existing Rock Island facility.

However, Hutchinson said the new center will provide keepers much larger work space for animal diet preparation, daily care and research work.  There will also be a two-story interpretive center which includes a multi-purpose room for education programs and animal demonstrations, restrooms, indoor space for special events, and a large underwater viewing area so visitors can watch the birds swim.

Also, the release continues, a special section of the new exhibit area will be a special building for the zoo's traveling penguins, which are currently housed in another area of the zoo. The penguins that travel around the community for outreach programs and media appearances cannot intermingle with the main penguin population, so this new building will be specifically for the housing and care of these "animal ambassadors."  Their area will include a separate yard and pool and will allow the zoo to have as many as eight penguin ambassadors for programs and appearances.

The new penguin exhibit was designed by CLRdesign, inc. a Philadelphia-based architecture, planning, landscape architecture, and exhibit design firm and is being built by Baltimore-based construction company Whiting Turner.

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