At Georgia Aquarium's Cold Water Quest, endangered African penguins frolic in 16,000 gallons of chilly water, experiencing the rhythms of the day thanks to an automatic lighting system that simulates sunrise and sunset. Sponsored by Georgia-Pacific, the special exhibit enables guests to get face-to-beak views of this threatened species.
In this video, Scott Higley and Erin Morlang of the Georgia Aquarium discuss the Cold Water Quest exhibit and how it has helped to provide a safe, protected indoor ecosystem for the penguins.
Because the fish that they eat are moving further offshore, requiring them to go a longer way to get their food, African penguins are fighting for survival in their native habitats on the shores of South Africa and Namibia. They also are threatened by oil spills, which can affect their feathers, making it harder for them to protect themselves from frigid water temperatures.
Renovated in 2010, the new Cold Water Quest habitat and penguin program provides both exhibit spaces where they can be seen by the public, and off-exhibit areas for pair bonding and nesting. The new, larger off-exhibit space gives penguins a place to form relationships that the aquarium hopes will lead to laying eggs and caring for chicks.
The new exhibit also allows guests to get closer looks at the penguins than ever before. Transparent crawl-through spaces with pop-up domes provide an unprecedented, up-close-and-personal experience.
"We are so proud of the Georgia-Pacific Cold Water Puest," says Higley, VP of Marketing and Communications. "It's really one of our most popular exhibits here at the aquarium. Sponsors like GP are so important to what we do here. They literally get behind everything we do including putting their name on our exhibits. But they help fund and drive the research and the conservation efforts that we do around the globe."