Penguin Point, presented by Trib Total Media, is home to the National Aviary's 17 African Penguins. This $1.7 million immersive exhibit transports visitors to the rocky shores of South Africa to experience the sights, sounds (and smells!) of a real penguin colony. This spacious open-air exhibit gives Aviary guests a 360-degree perspective of African penguins doing what penguins do best: waddling, squabbling, scaling rocks and torpedoing their way through the water.
The birds’ aquatic antics are on view through an acrylic-fronted pool and through the wheelchair accessible Kids ViewTube under the exhibit. There guests find themselves in the swim, with underwater views of the penguins as they “fly” through the pool. Domed bubbles allow children to pop up in the midst of the exhibit’s noisy residents. (African penguins are also known as “jackass penguins” because of their honking, braying call.) Heated nest cubbies — also visible to visitors — will provide a cozy place for the birds to congregate during cold winter days.
In time, the National Aviary hopes to breed select members of the penguin group as part of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) African Penguin Species Survival Plan, a carefully monitored breeding program that seeks to preserve healthy, genetically diverse populations of African penguins.