The exhibit will be the only of its kind in the Western United States.

little penguin facing camera with tiny wings outstretched and beak in the air

Courtesy of the Birch Aquarium. 

Big news can sometimes come in small packages, and that’s certainly the case for the latest information coming out of the Birch Aquarium in San Diego’s Scripps Institution of Oceanography.

Beginning July 12, visitors of the renowned research institution, which sits on a bluff in La Jolla and overlooks the Pacific, will be able to experience a habitat of little blue penguins, the smallest—and arguably most lovable—species of penguin in the world.

Officially named the “Beyster Family Little Blue Penguins” in honor of long-time supporters of the institution, the exhibit, when it opens, will be the only of its kind in the Western United States.

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Guests will have the freedom to immerse in a 2,900-square-foot habitat that includes a section of shoreline layers of sand and rock, an 18,000-gallon pool, a “discovery cave” for children to observe the penguins in their nesting burrows, and a small amphitheater to watch the birds swimming and socializing.

“We are so very excited to be adding [little blue penguins],” Birch Aquarium Executive Director Harry Helling said in a release. “Little blue penguins will be wonderful ambassadors that can help us to engage our community more deeply and further our mission to connect understanding to protecting our ocean planet.”

small blue penguin with white background looking head on at the camera

Courtesy of the Birch Aquarium

Discussions on the challenges facing little blue penguins, which boast big personalities that far exceed their 2-3 lb., 1-ft. tall physical stature, will also be included as part of the experience, as will examples of how conservation efforts to ensure their future survivability are intricately tied to our own.

“Little blue penguins and other seabirds are sentinel species for our ocean’s health and help us understand how we can be better stewards for our planet,” said Jenn Nero Moffatt, the aquarium’s senior director of animal care, science, and conservation. “Penguins, by their unique nature, are adored by our community, and in this way help to serve as great animal ambassadors. We hope that one look at their awkward waddling, their pint-sized bodies, torpedo swimming, and social nature will leave our guests enchanted, and wanting to learn how to aid in conservation efforts.”

Approximately 16 little blues, which are native to the coastal dunes and shores of Australia and New Zealand, will call the Birch Aquarium home. After previous stays in zoos in Dallas and Australia, the miniature colony was brought to San Diego County as part of collaborative conservation efforts by the internationally-involved Association of Zoos and Aquariums.

Birch Aquarium, a public exploration arm of UC San Diego, continually highlights groundbreaking scientific research that promotes both the understanding and conservation of our planet’s oceans. The center welcomes nearly 500,000 guests and more than 50,000 students each year to join hands-on workshops.

If you’re in the San Diego area after July 12, pay the aquarium, and the little blues, a visit. Access to the penguin habitat will be included in the total Birch Aquarium admission cost. Learn more about the aquarium here.


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