Animals and Conservation

New African Penguin Exhibit


“This new exhibit will put African penguins front and center in an extraordinary way.” Karl Kranz- COO

The Maryland Zoo in Baltimore is thrilled to have completed its new state-of-the-art exhibit.  This exciting African penguin habitat, called Penguin Coast, provides an enhanced natural environment designed to reflect the South African home of these unique coastal birds. Among other enhancements, this new exhibit space allows guests to get closer than ever to this amazing and endangered species. Penguin Coast will dramatically change the landscape and feel of the Zoo.  Located between Polar Bear Watch and African Journey, this new habitat is a featured destination easily accessible right in the center of all other exhibits. Along with a brand new location, Penguin Coast also brings a significant number of improvements for both the birds and guests.



Please note: All penguins have now moved from the current Rock Island penguin exhibit in African Journey to Penguin Coast.


Penguin CoastWith 360 degrees of viewing space, there is no bad spot at Penguin Coast. Not only that, but each viewing space is different. Visitors can watch the penguins climb and swim from the outside or head to the underwater viewing for an even more spectacular show. The exhibit also brings an upgrade to size, holding more than 185,000 gallons of water. Interactive features like the dump tank help ensure that all this water stays clean, along with entertaining visitors.


Using its fishing camp design, the exhibit is able to discretely keep the penguin holding building at its center. The building may resemble a large ice shack, but what is found inside is nothing but state of the art. The penguin holding building is easily accessed by the keepers through a bridge leading off the main wharf. Inside, they can house, breed and care for the penguins.


Inside the Education Center, you can find even more ways to view the penguins. Watch them from above the water line or check out the underwater viewing to see the birds coast through the eight-foot swim channel. You will also find restrooms, a multi-purpose education room for programs and space for special events.



Along with the 185,000 gallons of fresh water, there are two other features that help structure the habitat and entertain visitors. One feature is the dump tank that periodically releases a waterfall, creating waves for the penguins to bob in and helping to keep the water clean. Visitors can watch the waterfall up close through the tidal pool viewing window, located in the Education Center. Another feature is the blowhole, which occasionally shoots water in the air to cool off those who don’t mind getting wet.

dunktank blowhole


Just like Rock Island, the new Penguin Coast exhibit hosts morning and afternoon penguin feedings that visitors can watch. Additionally, there are also daily African Penguin keeper chats located at the exhibit. Click here for more information.



Penguin Encounters, which began in October 2014, are special behind-the-scenes tours of the Zoo’s new Penguin Embassy. The tours give you a perfect chance for photo opportunities as you interact with the penguins up close. Click here to learn more about Penguin Encounters.


The Maryland Zoo is home to one of North America’s largest breeding colonies of African penguins. Since their arrival at the Zoo in 1967, African penguins have been a significant focus of care, research and breeding. In 2009, the status of African penguins in the wild became endangered which has greatly enhanced the role The Maryland Zoo plays in the conservation of this threatened species.


Nearly 60 penguins live in the Zoo’s Penguin Coast exhibit.  The original Rock Island exhibit, built in the early 1960s, was originally home to goats and monkeys.  This space has served the birds extraordinarily well, but in an effort to improve living conditions and expand the colony, a plan to build a new exhibit was created.

The African penguin population in the wild has declined by 90% since the turn of the 20th century.  There are approximately 52,000 birds remaining, but threats to their habitats and survival are very real. Human interference used to pose the greatest threat. Collection of their eggs for human consumption and collection of guano used for fertilizer destroyed nesting sites which contributed to the penguins near extinction.

Today, although better protected as a species, African penguins continue to compete with commercial fisherman for access to fish and remain vulnerable to pollution along the coastline caused by oil spills.We thank you in advance for your patience and your sense of adventure when visiting the Zoo during construction. The finished exhibit promises to be profound. We want to keep you updated on our progress as we move forward to keep you informed and excited of what’s to come. Check back here periodically for updates, new pictures and video of the penguin progress. Click below to access the most recent exhibit information. We hope you’ll visit often and share in the excitement of this next chapter in the Zoo’s history!



The creation of the new Penguin Coast is an exciting and important milestone in the Zoo’s history.  A multi-million dollar facility of this scope is a large undertaking for the Zoo and would not be possible without the generous, visionary support of the State of Maryland.  Funds provided by the State for the exhibit are in addition to money allocated for the Zoo’s annual operations budget.




Conservation at Home

Penguin Encounters

New African Penguin Exhibit





Elephant Program


Animal Experiences

Rise & Conquer