Wednesday, February 4, 2015

New gentoo #penguins arrive at Detroit Zoo

Three gentoo penguins arrived at the Detroit Zoo this week, part of a build up of the penguin population at the Zoo as construction continues on its $29.5 million Polk Penguin Conservation Center.

Philly, Popeye and Simon — each just over a year old — are the first of their species to arrive at the zoo, officials said on Wednesday.

To pick them out from the crowd of king, rockhopper and macaroni penguins at the zoo's current Penguinarium, look for the white stripe extending across its head, a bright red-orange bill and a long tail.

More gentoos — the same type of penguins in the 2011 film Mr. Popper's Penguins — will arrive in the coming months as completion of new penguin home nears, zoo officials said.

The gentoo is the third-largest penguin, reaching a height of 30 inches and a weight of up to 20 pounds. It is also the fastest-diving bird, with paddle-shaped flippers that help it reach speeds of up to 22 miles an hour under water.

The penguins' new home will be a chilled 326,000-gallon, 25-foot-deep aquatic area with views above and below water as the birds dive and soar. Zoo officials said this will allow visitors to observe penguins dive under water — something that is impossible to see in the wild. "We have observed thousands of gentoo penguins in Antarctica as part of our research and development of the Polk Penguin Conservation Center's unique design. The aquatic habitat makes the facility an ideal environment for gentoos, which we know spend a lot of time in the water," said Scott Carter, Detroit Zoological Society (DZS) chief life sciences officer.

The Polk Penguin Conservation Center is under construction on a 2-acre site just inside the Zoo's entrance and is slated to open in early 2016. Once the penguins move to the PPCC, renovation will begin on the Penguinarium to turn it into a bat conservation center.


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