Humboldt Penguins from Woodland Park Zoo

Humboldt Penguins from Woodland Park Zoo

Information taken from Woodland Park Zoo

By Gigi Allianic

Seattle, WA – This May, Woodland Park Zoo is going black and white and green all over! That’s because Humboldt penguins will return to the zoo in an all new, sustainably built “green” exhibit that will save 3 million gallons of water a year.

The new exhibit is set to open to the public with special festivities on Saturday, May 2, 2009.

A colony of 20 endangered Humboldt penguins will move into the all new 17,000-square-foot exhibit this spring. The new, naturalistic exhibit features shoreline cliffs, viewable nesting burrows, rocky tide pools, crashing waves, and a beach, recreating the desert coast of Punta San Juan, Peru-home of the largest colony of wild Humboldt penguins.

With special windows and acrylic walls, dramatic underwater vantage points will offer guests nose-to-beak viewing as penguins splash, dive and “fly” underwater at speeds of up to 17 mph. Visitors will see these flightless birds preen, breed and squabble over nesting sites-much like they do on the shores in the wild.

Exhibit features and programming led by zoo staff and volunteers will introduce visitors not only to the fascinating biological adaptations of the Humboldt penguin, but also its compelling conservation story.

Families will encounter a blowhole that shoots water, oversized climb-in penguin burrows, and even a recreation of a wildlife research blind where visitors can observe penguin behavior like a real researcher.

As part of Woodland Park Zoo’s ongoing commitment to “green” practices, the penguin exhibit is built sustainably, using geothermal energy and an innovative filtration system that will save 3 million gallons of water and 75 million BTUs of energy each year-the equivalent of saving 24 million pints of drinking water, and heating five, new two-bedroom townhouses each year! The exhibit is also designed to contain and recycle all stormwater runoff thereby preventing the pollution of natural water sources like Puget Sound.

It is estimated that only 12,000 endangered Humboldt penguins survive in the wild. Overfishing of anchovies-the penguin’s primary food source-and other human activities, such as the harvesting of guano, which penguins rely on to build nests, pose the greatest threat to their survival. Woodland Park Zoo is committed to conserving Humboldt penguins by supporting the Humboldt Penguin Conservation Center at Punta San Juan, breeding endangered penguins through the Association of Zoos & Aquariums Species Survival Plan, and encouraging visitors to choose sustainable seafood options.

For more information about the new exhibit, visit or call 206.548.2500.