Sunday, April 02, 2017

Maryland Zoo, Chapter 1: Penguins & Pelicans & Cormorants! Oh my...

If you have to choose on thing to do exceptional well, then the Maryland Zoo has chosen the African Penguin, Spheniscus demersus.  It's exhibit, called Penguin Coast, is the most amazing habitat for this animal in any zoo in the world.  It's state of the art design has catapulted the Maryland Zoo to the forefront of African Penguin conservation and is allowing it to grow it's colony of 50 penguins (already the largest in North America) to 100.  Just the space for the birds to swim in alone is stunning in its size and organic design.  This is the Club Med of African Penguin facilities.  
 With multiple buildings, there is a water-action component that releases hundreds of thousands of gallons of water over and off of a glass pavilion and into a small tidal pond from which it pours over into the main water area creating vortexes in the currents to challenge birds as they navigate the pool in a manner similar to natural tidal actions.

 The African Penguins share the space with a trio of Pink-backed Pelicans, Pelecanus rufescens, from Africa's western coast.

 The other official inhabitant is a modest flock of White-breasted Cormorants, Phalacrocorax carbo lucidus, which are native to South Africa, like the Penguins.

 Areas to view the penguins as they swim are inside a darkened structure and avoid the frustration of glare on the plexiglass that can obstruct viewing.

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