I Need My Penguin Space!
Jenkinson's Aquarium's new penguin exhibit is nearly five times larger than old one
Penguins need their space too and now they have nearly five times as much at Jenkinson's Aquarium.
Jenkinson's recently completed a renovation and expansion of the penguin exhibit at the aquarium on the boardwalk, the first major renovation since the aquarium opened in 1991, said Aquarium Director Cindy Claus.
Claus, who has worked at the aquarium for 21 years, having started as a curator, said the square footage has increased from 119 to 500 and the pool space has been increased from 1,100 gallons to 4,200.
How did the aquarium make more room for the penguins and their pool?
"We moved all of the life support into the basement," Claus explained. The "life support" includes machinery that creates ultra-violet light, keeps air and water cold and pure and a system that filters out bugs to keep out mosquitos that may carry West Nile Virus.
Yes, penguins are birds too and are at risk from the virus infection just like any other birds, Claus explained, adding that the penguins are also immunized against the virus.
The newly-expanded digs can hold 24 penguins, compared to the former space which could only be home to a maximum of eight penguins, Claus said.
When the aquarium held a grand opening for the penguin exhibit on Thursday night, 12 penguins were in their new home. Two more penguins were on the aquarium's second floor because they are part of a breeding program, Claus said.
The aquarium's penguins are the same ones that were there before, Claus said. It's just that now more of them can fit into the main penguin exhibit, whereas before some had to be in other areas of the aquarium because the former exhibit space could only hold a maximum of eight.
Behind the penguins in the new exhibit are illustrations of Boulder Beach in South Africa, since the penguins are all South African, Claus explained.
Plans for the renovation began six years ago with conceptual designs and a model, Claus said. The actual renovation began in early April and was mostly done by the first of July, she said.
"We have some little things we are still working through as we watch the penguins settling into their new home," she said.
When asked about the cost of the renovation, Claus said the company does not release that information.
The expansion was encouraged by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, which has given accreditation to Jenkinson's and 224 other zoos and aquariums it the U.S., Claus said.
The grand opening was attended by Point Beach Councilmen Stephen Reid, William Mayer and Tim Lurie and Republican Council Candidate Andy Cortes, who is running with Reid, as well as many Jenkinson's officials, staff, friends and Point Beach Chamber of Commerce officials.