The delays in the penguin and otter exhibits are costing the city money.
In the mayor’s budget proposal, he blames the delays for a shortfall at the BioPark.
The Penguin Chill was supposed to be open by now, and former Mayor Richard Berry was banking on it when he put together the current budget.
The Berry Administration expected it to be finished around February 2018, but Monday, the BioPark said it could be months before visitors see the $12 million exhibit open for business.
They still have to finish construction; landscape inside and out; add the educational component, like touch screens; perform system tests for 30 days; then bring in the penguins and get them acclimated to their new home before they can be put on display for the public.
Another delayed project is the otter exhibit at the aquarium that officials said could open by early June, months behind schedule.
It’s not just an inconvenience for BioPark fans.
“We’re really disappointed. We were really looking forward to seeing it,” zoo visitor Robin Dauman said.
“We bring guests from out of town. My family’s here from Chicago. They wanted to see it,” added Marie Gavaldon.
It’s also been a hit to the city.
Mayor Keller’s proposed budget attributes part of a $1.1 million revenue shortfall at the BioPark to the fact that the two exhibits haven’t opened yet, leading to lower than anticipated attendance.
When the penguins and otters do finally get here, the mayor’s office anticipates a revenue spike of $700,000.
For now, however, it’s a waiting game.
“It’s taking a long time,” said BioPark visitor Alison Holler. “We’ve been waiting a long time.”
The BioPark chalks up the delays to wanting to make sure these very detailed projects are done just right.