Penguins rescued off the coast of Rio de Janeiro by the Brazilian Coast Guard are seen at the Niteroi Zoo in Rio de Janeiro, Friday, July 18, 2008. According to officials, over 400 baby penguins have been found dead on the state's shores over the past two months. While large numbers of penguins arrive on Rio de Janeiro's beaches every year, swept to sea by strong ocean currents from the Strait of Magellan, this year is seeing higher numbers and more dead penguins than usual. (AP Photo/Ricardo Moraes)
TOPEKA ZOO -- The Topeka Zoo is about to get a whole lot cooler as it welcomes a new, temporary exhibit for 2012 called Penguin Plunge. The exhibit, expected to open May 10, 2012, will feature African Penguins in a replica of their South African beach habitat.
"We are excited about bringing this exhibit to the Topeka Zoo and look forward to introducing the community to these amazing animals," Brendan Wiley, zoo director said.
Penguin Plunge will be open to the public from May 10 through September 2012 and will take zoo visitors on an adventure to the beaches of Cape Town South Africa where they will encounter an exhibit that simulates Boulders Beach, a habitat of which one of the largest colonies of African Penguins reside. Visitors will be able to see the flightless birds preen, feed and swim in their naturalistic surroundings. A viewing window will allow close-up views as the penguins "fly" underwater.
In addition to the live penguin viewing area, the exhibit will feature many educational stations designed for guests to explore the biology, culture and conservation issues facing these penguins. An interactive play area will also be part of the exhibit. Many special events in 2012 will also be themed around the penguins.
Unlike the arctic species of penguin, African Penguins are found on the southernmost coast of Africa and live in colonies on rocky shores and beaches. The populations of African penguins are declining at an alarming rate and have recently been designated as an endangered species. "By bringing this exhibit to Topeka, we hope to raise awareness of the decline in penguin population and continue our commitment to animal conservation." Wiley said.