ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – The penguins have made a huge splash since their exhibit opened at the Albuquerque BioPark Zoo, which had seen declining numbers in recent years.
BioPark officials said attendance was up more than 10% last year, which is impressive considering the “Penguin Chill” exhibit didn’t even open until late July, after the busy season.
Waves of people have been coming in every day to get a glimpse of the zoo’s new feathered friends. The penguins boosted the attendance figures for 2019, with 720,051 people visiting the zoo, which is up 12% or about 75,000 more from the year before.
“When we actually first opened up in July we were pushing close to 7,000 people a day through this building,” said Baird Fleming, Director of ABQ BioPark Zoo. “We would get close to 1,000 people an hour. That’s right up there with Disney’s ‘Haunted Mansion’ numbers.”
The nearly 15,000 square-foot exhibit houses more than 30 Macaroni, Gentoo and King penguins. The penguins did not come cheap, costing the city a little more than $19 million.
Officials said they do not anticipate the penguins to do any breeding this season but are hopeful they will next year.