Over the past 10 years the El Paso Zoo and Botanical Gardens has been focused on completing a wide array of projects approved by El Paso voters when they approved the 2012 Quality of Life Bond. Thanks to community wide support early next year we will be breaking ground for a new Penguin exhibit! Construction crews will begin their work in January and we hope to have the exhibit open to the public by early 2023.
The new exhibit will be home to Magellanic Penguins and be built in the South American portion of the Zoo across from the Reptile House and Spider Monkeys. Scientists believe that there are at least twenty species of Penguins with the most famous ones living in Antarctic Continent region including Emperor Penguins, Adélie Penguins, Chinstraps Penguins, Macaronis Penguins, and Gentoos Penguins. Three species of penguin reside exclusively in the sub-Antarctic including Rockhoppers, Kings and Magellanic.
Magellanic Penguins feed only in the oceans and breed on the shores of a variety of island and mainland coastal habitats on both the Atlantic and Pacific coasts of Argentina. If you saw the beautiful Argentinian movie, Lighthouse of the Orcas, you probably did not see any Penguins, but did see Peninsula Valdes’ National Park. At this park Penguins can be found in 3 different colonies along the coast with the largest colony found in the Punta Tombo Rookery home to more than 500,000 Magellanic Penguins.
When hunting for food Magellanic Penguins travel in large flocks and during the breeding season in September large colonies assemble along the coasts. They build their nests under bushes and in burrows where two eggs are laid. After 39-42 days the parents will share caring for the chicks.
Magellanic Penguins are commonly seen in Zoos and Aquariums. If you also saw the comedy-drama Netflix series, Atypical, the character Sam loved watching penguins and was often seen watching Magellanic Penguins at the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach, California.
The biggest 2012 Quality of Life project completed so far at the Zoo has been the $16 Chihuahuan Desert exhibit that features the flora and fauna of this amazing region. The exhibit includes an arroyo and a flash flood feature that helps people better understand an important natural force helping to shape the desert landscape, plus common plants and animals including a number of endangered species.
Top – Don Faulkner, Wikimedia Creative Commons
Bottom – Ronald Woan, Wikimedia Creative Commons
Cover – Ronald Woan, Wikimedia Creative Commons
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