I strode right through the standby line and opened the doors to the newly opened Polk Penguin Conservation Center at the Detroit Zoo. The chilled air envelopes you as you enter and a steady state of noise welcomes you. The window to the Penguinarium is right in front of you but, you have to get past the crowd of kids and parents four-deep. But, as you politely move your way toward the front, once you lean upon the glass your eyes will be overwhelmed by the sight. More than 80 penguins from 4 separate species call this Antarctic slice of heaven home. And you are their guest!
I could have easily spent substantial time at that window but, niceties had me turning around to slide through the crowd to allow more people at the window. Plus, I wanted to see what else this place had to offer.
Following the crowd I found the ramp that led to the lower level but, I almost got a little seasick. Surrounding the ramp is a fabulous 4D movie that makes you feel like you are on a ship in the Antarctic. I timed it perfectly to be right in a storm and let me tell you it is very realistic. I preferred the calmer seas over the storm but, as you turn around in a circle, you can see how much effort was made to make this realistic with the screens and the sounds.
As you walk along, you immerse yourself in the hull of the ship. The wood paneling along with the creaks makes you do a double-take to remind yourself you are not on a ship. The portholes are quite entertaining with different sea creatures in each one (whales, jellyfish, and one angry-looking octopus). In the bottom right picture, you can see him eyeing you!
As you wonder how far down you are going to go, it opens up into the underwater tunnel. You can take a seat if you want to rest a bit and watch the penguins from above swim all around you. This building is an improvement from their previous penguin home where the water was so dark that it was hard to see them swim. There is so much light in here that you can guarantee seeing tons of penguins playing in the water.
Besides the crowds, this is a definite must-see when you visit the Detroit Zoo. If you happen to be worried about going below, there is also a Live Penguin Cam that you can watch 24/7. I love seeing the improvements around Metro-Detroit and this one tops the list! Come and take a voyage to the Antarctic with 80 of my cute little friends!