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Penguins move to off-display area until 2015

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Aug. 9, 2013 - The St. Louis Zoo penguins had us at hello. But now it's time to say goodbye until their return in 2015.

On Tuesday Aug. 20, the beloved Humboldt penguins will move from their outdoor habitat to an off-display area. The exhibit is closing to protect the penguins and public from the construction of the new polar bear exhibit. The rest of the penguins will also march off to their behind-the-scene home, though the time for that hasn't been released yet.

The new polar bear exhibit will include a large outdoor space, salt water pools, terrain to explore as well as state of the art facilities. The visitors will be given the chance to be nose-to-nose with the polar bears as they walk through an underwater viewing area.

The 20 Humboldt penguins are moving to what used to be the Sea Lion Sound Arena. It includes a large 6,000-gallon pool as well as access to a second 9,000 gallon pool.

The arena is also the headquarters of the Zoo’s Life Support Systems team, a group of specially trained professionals that maintain water and environmental quality at all Zoo exhibits.

When asked whether the penguins will miss their human visistors, Zoo spokesperson Susan Gallagher said, “The penguins will likely be indifferent about the absence of the public. All of our penguins were hatched in captivity so they are habituated to people. There is nothing to suggest that the penguins are affected one way or the other by the presence of guests in the habitats.”