Work has started on a new exhibit for rare Humboldt Penguins at the Niagara Aquarium, a $3.3 million project that represents the largest capital investment at the attraction in a half-century.
Groundbreaking ceremonies were held today and work is expected to be completed in spring of 2018.
Aquarium Executive Director Gary Siddall said the “state-of-the-art” exhibit will make visitors feel like
they’re actually standing on a coastline, viewing the penguins in their natural habitat.
The new addition will also expand the Aquarium’s penguin population.
“Currently our colony consists of seven penguins,” Siddall told WBFO. “But once the project is completed we’ll be working with other zoos and aquariums to bring in approximately 20 penguins. So we’ll have a decent size colony, almost tripling the size of it from where we stand today.”
Officials said there are only 20 Humboldt Penguin displays in the U.S. and Canada. They added that these animal are quite rare and are in danger of extinction.
The seven resident penguins remain on display in a temporary exhibit located on the Aquarium’s second floor. Visitors can view various activities, including daily feeding presentations.
Once the exhibit is completed next spring, it will allow the Niagara Aquarium to apply for the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) Accreditation, the independent accrediting organization that ensures that institutions are living up to high standards.