Albuquerque zoo’s penguin exhibit expected to open summer 2019

Monday, the city announced when the zoo’s penguin exhibit is finally opening. It’ll be more than a year behind schedule, but with some new twists.

The BioPark director says bringing penguins to the desert is a challenge, but they hope to have them here by next April, with the exhibit opening just weeks after their arrival.

“They’re going to have to take some time to acclimate, and some penguins will do that much quicker than others,” said BioPark director Baird Fleming. “We’re hoping it’s only going to take them two weeks, but it may take as long as a month.”

It turns out that penguins cannot be transported during this time of year because they are breeding and shedding their feathers. Once April hits, the 32 penguins should be on their way from Orlando and San Diego.

The zoo also revealed images of a few of the features at the Penguin Chill exhibit, including the interactive learning area and a replica of the Aurora Australis.

“When I say replica, I mean a real life replica,” Fleming said. “It’s actually going to be a live portrayal of what the Aurora Australis is doing at that very moment in time, and that’s going to be projected up so that people can see that and experience it as they’re looking into seeing the penguins.”

Construction began on this project in spring 2017 under the Berry administration. It was supposed to open earlier this year, but will be a little over a year behind schedule due to the complexity of the exhibit.

They expect the actual construction portion of the exhibit to be done in the next few weeks.

The Penguin Chill exhibit will cost about $13.5 million, most of it coming from the city’s BioPark sales tax.

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