Polk Penguin Conservation Center, Photo by Jennie Miller/Detroit Zoo

Polk Penguin Conservation Center Now Open at Detroit Zoo

We previously discussed the Polk Penguin Conservation Center in an earlier article, but this amazing project is now open (as of April 18), and it is even more stunning than we could have imagined!

Polk Penguin Conservation Center, Photo by Jennie Miller/Detroit Zoo

Polk Penguin Conservation Center / Jennie Miller / Detroit Zoo

The Polk Penguin Conservation Center at the Detroit Zoo is home to approximately 80 penguins of four species: king, Gentoo, rockhopper, and macaroni.  The new $30 million exhibit offers the penguins a much more naturalistic and spacious environment than their former home at the zoo, the Penguinarium.

Gentoo Penguin, Photo by Jennie Miller/Detroit Zoo

Gentoo Penguin / Jennie Miller / Detroit Zoo

Underwater Penguin Viewing, Photo by Jennie Miller/Detroit Zoo

Underwater Penguin Viewing / Jennie Miller / Detroit Zoo

Among the more naturalistic features of the exhibit are a 326,000-gallon pool, which contains 10 times the water volume of the old exhibit, along with rockwork, ice, and even falling snow.  The building includes a number of expansive windows that allow natural light into the exhibit.  The zoo has also equipped the center with nesting materials so that the penguins can rear young.

Macaroni Penguins, Photo by Jennie Miller/Detroit Zoo

Macaroni Penguins / Jennie Miller / Detroit Zoo

Macaroni Penguins, Photo by Jennie Miller/Detroit Zoo

Macaroni Penguins / Jennie Miller / Detroit Zoo

The building itself was inspired by icebergs, which are plentiful in the penguins’ native Antarctic environment.  As guests travel through the building, they will encounter a number of above water and underwater viewing panels.  The adventure through the Penguin Conservation Center also incorporates projection mapping in several areas – one area depicting an explorer’s ship navigating choppy seas, and another immersing visitors in the middle of an iceberg calving event.

Underwater Penguin Tunnel, Photo by Jennie Miller/Detroit Zoo

Underwater Penguin Tunnel / Jennie Miller / Detroit Zoo

The most impressive features of the new exhibit are undoubtedly the expansive underwater viewing spaces.  At the middle of the trek through the center, guests will travel through two underwater tunnels in which they will be surrounded by penguins gliding through the water.  In between the two tunnels is a massive acrylic window offering adventurers a glimpse into the penguins’ underwater capabilities.

Penguin Center Gift Shop, Photo by Jennie Miller/Detroit Zoo

Penguin Center Gift Shop / Jennie Miller / Detroit Zoo

A large plaza is also located outside of the Penguin Conservation Center, which features a 25-foot cascading waterfall over the side of the building, as well as a 1,400-square-foot fountain in the shape of the Antarctic continent.  The zoo plans to convert this outdoor plaza into a 1,100-square-foot ice skating rink in the winter months.

Polk Penguin Conservation Center, Photo by Jennie Miller/Detroit Zoo

Polk Penguin Conservation Center / Jennie Miller / Detroit Zoo

Polk Penguin Conservation Center, Photo by Jennie Miller/Detroit Zoo

Polk Penguin Conservation Center / Jennie Miller / Detroit Zoo

The Penguin Conservation Center is included in Detroit Zoo admission, but due to the popularity of the new exhibit, guests will have to obtain timed-entry passes for the exhibit.  Check out this walkthrough provided by the Detroit Zoo!

Detroit Zoo / YouTube




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