Maryland Zoo continues work on planned penguin exhibit expansion

BALTIMORE - Rock Island is one of the biggest attractions here at the Maryland Zoo in Baltimore.

African penguins have called it home for the past four decades.

"We are the most successful breeding colony in the U.S., which means we produce more chicks than any other institution,” said Lindsay Jacks, the zoo’s penguin keeper.

But the zoo's success is actually posing problems.

"We don't have enough nest boxes for all of the pairs of penguins,” said Jess Phillips, manager of Rock Island.

Complete with a rocky coastline and an endless mote, conditions seem ideal. But zookeepers say the home of the popular penguins is falling apart from cracks in the concrete to leaks in thee mote.

“The facilities are very outdated,” Phillips said. “Because there's no life support system here we get algae build up.”

Zoo officials said the exhibit is showing its age.

“It's going to cost a lot more money to repair, than it would be to build a whole new facility," Phillips said.

That's exactly what they're doing now. A state-of-the-art exhibit is under construction and set to open this fall.

"The fact that we've been taking care of these guys since 1967, is wonderful. We're where all institutions strive to be." Jacks said,

Phillips added: "We would like to continue breeding and increase the size of our colony.”



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