Zoo-rific offered a chance to see the penguin exhibit; raise funds for additional projects
DECATUR—The final touches are being put onto the new penguin exhibit at Scovill Zoo as zoo staff anxiously awaits the arrival of their 10 new birds.
Over the weekend several people had the opportunity to lay their eyes on the new exhibit as the Zoo hosted their 4th annual Zoorific event. The exhibit, which Assistant Zoo Director Ken Frye says is about 99% finished received mainly positive reviews from those in attendance, “this is one of the best exhibits the zoo has ever had,” exclaimed one visitor, while another said “the last time I saw this was when they broke ground in December, I had no idea it would amount to this just 8 months later.”
With all the rocks in place and water in the tank the exhibit looks a little different than what you would imagine a ‘traditional’ penguin exhibit looking like. Frye says it was by design, “these penguins are not your ‘typical’ refrigerator penguins, they aren’t black and white, they are more of a tan and white color and they come from South America, not Antarctica.” “The penguins are naturally from Peru, so the design team attempted to make it look as much like Peru as possible,” Frye said. The exhibit includes plenty of brown rock, a pool of water, some trees, and 5 independent nesting areas.
As for actually seeing the penguins once they arrive in October, Frye says the setup will allow you to get a look at the birds from a number of angles, “There are three individual views, we have the base view, which is basically water level, there is an over-the-top view to the right of the exhibit and there is also an ‘all-inclusive’ view that requires you to crawl through a tunnel before eventually popping up in the middle of the exhibit.” “It can be used by kids or adults, I think it will be neat to get a look at the penguins from the inside as opposed to being on the outside looking in,” Frye said.
Scovill hopes to have at least some of the penguins arrive in mid-October. Frye says they are being donated from all over the United States, from Missouri to California. He says they will get the first 4 from the closer zoos in Wichita, Kansas, and St. Louis, before eventually receiving three from out west and three more from out east. “We think that by adopting a few at a time it will make it easier for the penguins, and the zookeepers to become familiar with the surroundings,” Frye said, “Not only do the animals have to familiarize themselves with the zoo, the keepers are going to have to learn how to take care of these birds, it will be a learning curve on both sides.”
With the penguin exhibit wrapping up, Park District officials and zoo staff have already turned their attention to their next big project, redeveloping the alligator exhibit and get funding for an otter exhibit. All three will eventually be connected by water and will form ‘Splash Cove’. “This was our first big ambitious exhibit that we have ever done with the zoo, but the idea, years down the road, is to have an otter exhibit and connect it to the alligator exhibit… I think it will tell a nice little story.” Totals haven’t been released from Saturday’s Zoorific event, but Cindy Deadrick-Wolfer says she believes they topped $60,000.