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Detroit Zoo Expansion: Polk Penguin Conservation Center

This April, visitors to the Detroit Zoo will be able to experience an all-new penguin exhibit, called the Polk Penguin Conservation Center.  When the Penguin Conservation Center opens, it will boast the title of being not only the zoo’s largest project to date, but also of being the largest penguin facility in the world.

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Concept Art by Jones and Jones Architects

The zoo’s old penguin exhibit, the Penguinarium, will be re-purposed into a bat conservation center upon completion of the new penguin facility.  Compared to the old Penguinarium exhibit, the Polk Penguin Conservation Center will have ten times as much pool volume, and five times as much land area.

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Concept Art by Jones and Jones Architects

At a cost of $29.5 million, the Penguin Conservation Center will bring guests closer into the world of the penguin than ever before at the zoo, as the exhibit will feature above and below water viewing.  On display at the center will be four species of penguins: gentoo, king, rockhopper, and macaroni.  In total, there will be more than 80 penguins calling the exhibit home.


Concept Art by Jones and Jones Architects

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Construction Progress on Underwater Tunnels: Photo by Tanya Moutzalias/ MLive Detroit

The 33,000-square-foot facility will have a lot of incredible features for visitors to explore, including two underwater tunnels.  The tunnels, made of acrylic, will pass through the 25-foot deep pool, which can accommodate 326,000-gallons of water chilled to the perfect temperature for the penguins’ comfort.

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Concept Art by Detroit Zoo

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Construction Progress on Penguin Exhibit: Photo by Tanya Moutzalias/ MLive Detroit

In order to prepare for and design the exhibit, zoo officials and project designers made a series of research trips to Antarctica and the Drake Passage to understand the habitats for penguins that they needed to recreate as best as possible.  The exhibit is designed to replicate an iceberg, and other geographic features in the exhibit will be a crevasse and a waterfall.

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Detroit Zoo

The zoo has also designed some features, including 4-D effects, for the guests to enjoy throughout the Penguin Conservation Center.  These special effects may include arctic wind blasts, waves, and iceberg carving.  Outside of the exhibit, plans call for a splash-pad play area for kids.

Via: MLive Detroit

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