Penguins at the Toledo Zoo are getting a head start on summer by moving to a new beach-side residence.
Their new home will feature a 360-square-foot indoor space, holding pool, nesting dens and a 20,000 gallon pool. A gentle wave pool will mimic ocean conditions the birds would encounter in the wild, while a waterfall will lead to a shallow stream.
A colony of about 18 males and females will take ownership of Penguin Beach on Friday, when the Toledo Zoo unveils three new exhibits with opening-weekend activities which include live music and entertainment, animal enrichment demonstrations, talks, educational activities, and more.
The $3.5 million penguin beach exhibit, funded by private donations and foundations, will allow the zoo to breed the African penguins, which are an endangered species, while guests can watch as the birds swim underwater from three floor-to-ceiling panels, similar to those in the zoo’s popular Arctic Encounter exhibit.
"It‘s a whole new way to look at penguins at the zoo,“ said Jeff Sailer, executive director of the Toledo Zoo. ”There’s a walkway through the exhibit, so visitors will be in the exhibit with penguins around them.“
As penguins walk the sandy shores of the beach, a flock of flamingos will greet zoo visitors from their new Caribbean oasis at the base of the pedestrian bridge. The pink, fluffy, feathered birds have made their way back to the zoo after an absence of more than a decade. About 15 fuzzy gray chicks and five long-legged adult flamingos, sporting the avian supermodel look, will populate Flamingo Key, a $175,000 exhibit sponsored by Toledo Express Airport.
Other new arrivals at the zoo, include three Watusi cattle, an East African breed known for its lyre-shaped horns which can reach up to 8 feet from tip to tip. Historically, the breed was regarded as a status symbol and a form of currency among the elite. The cattle arrived at the zoo earlier this month and are on display at Tembo Trail near the rhinoceros exhibit.
The weekend will also witness the opening of ’Keet Retreat, a free-flight walk through encounter, which will bring guests face to face with hundreds of colorful parakeets. For $1, guests can feed the birds, bringing them even closer.
”They‘ll come and land on you and eat the seeds off the stick,“ Mr. Sailer said. "We have hundreds of them and they fly in concert. They’re incredibly fast. It‘s really a site to see.”
Contact RoNeisha Mullen at firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6133.