If you’ve been to the Detroit Zoo in the last year you’ve noticed the construction happening towards the front gate. We’ve all been waiting to see the new center and it opens tomorrow to the public. The new Polk Conservation Center is a the largest penguin in the world with a 33,000-square-foot facility is a 326,000-gallon, 25-foot-deep aquatic area where visitors can watch as more than 80 penguins of four species explore their habitat.
We were able to get a sneak peak at the Polk Penguin Conservation Center last week before it opened to the public and immediately could see an improvement to the old penguin house. The first thing guests will notice is the shape of the building, while it looks extremely modern the building is modeled after ice bergs and the main entrance is shaped after a penguins head. The exterior of the building also features a water feature and fountains out of a map of Antarctica that will be fun for children to play in as the weather improves.
When you first walk into the space you’re greeted with a large view of the new penguin habitat that now is home to 80 penguins. The viewing area has super clear glass that you can see through without any fogging or spots. The new habitat offers different zones for the penguins to explore and even has an area that creates snow for them to play.
As you go through the Polk Penguin Conservation Center you also have several different educational experiences for guests to enjoy including the Shackleton’s Journey to Antarctica, Ice boring wells, and interactive projections so guest can learn more about the species of penguins in the new space. After the main lobby of the space, guest will go down a ramp into the lower observation areas. On the walls of the ramp area are projections like you’re on Shackleton’s ship on a journey to the Antarctic. The ship lurches, waves crash and on lower levels you can see different sea life through the portals. This interactive experience is book-ended with a similar experience on the other end where you walk up with ice bergs crashing down around you. These experiences aren’t over projected, however the sound and light movement may cause an issue with people with sensory issues, or get motion sickness.
The lower level of the Polk Penguin Conservation Center offers not one, but two tunnels so you can watch the penguins dive up to 25 feet. The larger tunnel even has a glass floor section so the birds can swim all around you. Between the two tunnels is a larger lower level observation area and evens a smaller tunnel area for children to crawl in and watch the penguins.
Before you leave the Polk Conservation Center there is another view of the main upper viewing area as well as a fun gift shopped filled with everything a penguin lover could want. The new space is stunning, vivid and an educational space that everyone in the family will want to visit again and again.
For more information on the Polk Penguin Conservation Center and its features visit the Polk Penguin website. The Polk Penguin Conservation Center opens to the public on April 18th, and is free with any zoo admission. Due to the popularity of the exhibit, entry will be timed entry at the beginning. This is temporary, but will make sure guests get to experience the exhibit without any problems or overcrowding.
The Detroit Zoo is offering Twelve free after-hours events will be held exclusively for Detroit Zoological Society Members to be among the first to tour the Polk Penguin Conservation Center: April 18-21, April 25-28 and May 2-5. If you’re a member you can reserve your date and time on the Detroit Zoo MemberFest Site.