Penguin aficionados already know that April 25th is World Penguin Day. Our tuxedo-clad friends are also celebrated each year on January 20th, which is Penguin Awareness Day. If you’re looking for a way to join in the fun, head to one of these four locales to get some face time with your favorite Antarctic birds.
Penguin Coast at the Maryland Zoo
If you’re not able to see penguins in their natural habitat, the newly opened Penguin Coast is the next best thing. This state-of-the-art African Penguin Exhibit allows the birds to interact in an enhanced natural environment. Located between Polar Bear Watch and African Journey, Penguin Coast provides an opportunity for visitors to get close to these beautiful and endangered birds. It’s a fascinating experience for both kids and adults.
Penguin Exhibit at the New England Aquarium
Another great place to see penguins is the penguin colony at the New England Aquarium. The Aquarium even breeds African penguins as part of a species survival plan, and hosts educational programs for both adults and kids. Several species of penguins live at the Aquarium, including African penguins, rockhoppers, and little blue penguins. It’s a wonderful exhibit within one of the country’s best aquariums.
Phillip Island Nature Park, Australia
To see penguins in their natural habitat, head to Phillip Island Nature Park in Australia (about a 90-minute drive from Melbourne). It’s home to the world’s smallest penguin species, called little penguins or fairy penguins – fitting names, since they are only 12 inches tall and weigh less than three pounds. The prime viewing time is each evening when these fascinating birds return to shore to fed their young. Visitors can choose between observing the penguins from elevated boardwalks (so as not to disturb the birds) or purchasing one of the limited tickets to walk amongst the penguins on the beach. Penguins aren’t all Philip Island Nature Park has to offer – stick around to see the koalas, wallabies, anteaters, seals and whales.
Tierra del Fuego (Argentina and Chile)
Arguably the best place in the world to see penguins in their natural habitat is Ushuaia, Argentina, the southernmost city in the world. There’s a company, PiraTour, that takes visitors through the Patagonian forest to Estancia Harberton, a family-owned farm and marine center. From there, they take you by boat to Isla Martillo, a research station that monitors Magellanic and gentoo penguins. Some of the penguins will be curious to get to know you and may even come over to greet you.