Cleveland Metroparks Zoo is ready to welcome the pitter-patter of tiny webbed feet when six African black-footed penguins take up residence in Penguin Shores presented by Cleveland Clinic Children's, a seasonal traveling exhibit opening April 3 in the Zoo's Northern Trek area.
The penguin exhibit, designed by Virginia-based Animal Interaction Design Group, in partnership with Cleveland Metroparks Exhibits team, is slated to run through mid-September. The special exhibit will be free with regular Zoo admission. It features naturalistic rock work with nest boxes, ledges and irregular surfaces, and a pool for swimming. Guests will be able to learn about penguins in the wild and conservation efforts under way to help them.
�This is the first time penguins will be seen at our Zoo since 2002,� said Executive Zoo Director Dr. Chris Kuhar. �And with 2015 being the celebration of the �Year of Clean Water,' the timing couldn't be better for us to mount this special exhibit. The penguins will serve as ambassadors for conservation as part of the Zoo's contribution to the Cleveland Water Alliance and Sustainable Cleveland's Year of Clean Water.�
Life-size cutouts of different penguin species placed throughout the Zoo will help guide guests to the Penguin Shores area in Northern Trek. Once they arrive, guests will experience a totally re-themed exhibit area around the former Grin �n' Bear Eats concession stand. A colorful South African seaport now stands in its place, preparing to transport guests to the rocky coastlines and beaches where the penguins live.
A new live animal show with all-star critters from the Zoo's Conservation Education department will be performed several times daily at the seaport and cutouts of the African penguins will make great photo opportunities for kids and families.
All-new behind the scenes opportunities to see the penguins up close will be available as well through the Zoo's Inside Tracks and Overnights programs.
African black-footed penguins are native to the rocky coastline and islands of South Africa. They are well-adapted to swimming and fishing in the cold water off the South African coast. They eat anchovies, sardines and other small fish species. They are classified as �endangered� by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, mainly due to the commercial overfishing of their primary prey species, and environmental damage from the oil industry.
The Penguin Shores exhibit will outline how pollution from plastics and destruction of habitat are affecting penguin species in the wild.
The Zoo last exhibited penguins in a mixed-species exhibit at the Birds of the World building which included Humboldt, macaroni and king penguins. The king penguins were the last species to leave the Zoo in 2002.
Northeast Ohio's most-visited year-round attraction, Cleveland Metroparks Zoo is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. Admission is $13.25 per person, $9.25 for kids ages 2 to 11 and free for children younger than 2 and Zoo members. Parking is free. Located at 3900 Wildlife Way, the Zoo is easily accessible from Interstates 71, 90 and 480.
For more information, visit clevelandmetroparks.com/zoo or call (216) 661-6500.
Penguin Shores is presented by Cleveland Clinic Children's.