About 50 penguins are settling in to their new home at the Kansas City Zoo, as the Helzberg Penguin Plaza opens to the public October 25.
Kansas City Zoo director Randy Wisthoff says one of his first ideas when he arrived here ten years ago was opening a penguin exhibit. From his experience at the Omaha Zoo, he knew they were crowd pleasers.
"We hate to say it in the zoo world, but they are cute," Wisthoff says. "They do look like people. And they’re fun in water and out of the water."
The new $15 million facility allows viewers to observe the penguins both on the ground and under water. There’s King, Rockhopper and the acrobatic Gentoo penguins in the cold area, which mimics an Antarctic climate. Humboldt penguins live in the temperate section, which is modeled after the coasts of Chile and Peru.
The building was funded by private donations as well as a 1/8 cent sales tax in Jackson and Clay Counties.
Wisthoff hopes the penguins will boost attendance next year as much as Nikita the polar bear did last year.