The Aquarium of Niagara is creating a $3.3 million Humboldt penguin exhibit to help protect this increasingly threatened species.
Once complete, the 3,500 square foot penguin exhibit will have space for up to 20 individuals.
Established in 1978, the aquarium’s Humboldt penguin colony comprises 7 birds and is considered to be geriatric. Indeed, the last chick to hatch successfully was an individual named Chile back in 2006.
However, the aquarium has been unable to expand its collection because it lacks the necessary Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) Accreditation.
The new facility will mean it can apply for AZA accreditation which demands the highest standards of animals welfare.
Expanding the collection will reinvigorate the colony and enable the aquarium to restart its breeding programme.
In total, the Aquarium of Niagara’s new exhibit will comprise a 1,600 square foot penguin habitat, a classroom, a quarantine holding centre and veterinary centre.
Furthermore, a 4-foot pool will allow the public to view the animals both above and below the water.
Additionally, landscaping will echo the penguins’ native habitat along the coast of Peru and Chile.
Major threats to the species include:
- Reduction in food supply due to commercial overfishing
- Global climate change
- Increased frequency of El Nino weather events
- Habitat destruction
- Entanglement in fishing nets
- Mining activities
- Over exploitation of guano and disturbance of nesting sites
- Marine pollution
The Aquarium of Niagara is home to over 40 exhibits featuring 128 species of mammals, fish, birds and reptiles.
What’s more, it is one of only 20 institutions in the US and Canada that houses the threatened Humboldt penguin.
The new exhibit is expected to open in spring 2018.
Image courtesy the Aquarium of Niagara