woman sitting with african penguins around her

Meet and greet an endangered African penguin!

At Penguin Coast, you can watch penguins waddle, swim, dive, and eat in North America’s largest African penguin colony. Want an even closer experience? Join us for a special Penguin Encounter! It’s your chance to meet and greet some of the Zoo’s endangered African penguins. Take part in an intimate, 30-minute encounter with a guided keeper experience, special photo opportunities, and up-close penguin connections.

*Note: In the event of rain the encounter will be held inside and may have to be slightly adjusted.


Encounter Times:
  • Tuesday – Thursday: 1:50
  • Friday – Monday: 11:20 & 1:50
January – February:
  • Friday – Monday: 11:20 & 1:50
Encounter length:
  • 30 minutes
Group Size:
  • No more than eight (8) guests per encounter


Adults and children ages 8 & over:
(Children under 8 years of age are NOT permitted for this Zoo Experience)

  • $54 for Zoo Members
  • $64 for Non-members*
  • One ticket required per guest.
  • Children ages 8 through 15 must be accompanied by a ticketed adult on a 3 child: 1 adult ratio.
  • Purchase online, in advance.

Schedule a Penguin Encounter

Gift an Encounter

*Prices do not include Zoo admission. Zoo admission tickets are required for each encounter attendee and must be purchased separately for non-Zoo members. If you are not a Zoo member, you must purchase admission tickets in advance. If you are a Zoo Member, simply show your membership card and ID when checking in at the main gate.

Zoo members, to receive your ticket discount you must first create an account on the Zoo’s online store. Click below to register if you don’t already have an account. Once you do, you’ll automatically receive your Penguin Encounter discounts at checkout.

Create Member Account


Gift the chance to meet and greet endangered African penguins at the Zoo to someone special. Your Gift Penguin Encounter will include a digital confirmation with scheduling instructions to forward to your recipient*. Guests will have one year from date of purchase to schedule their encounter. If you would prefer that a printed certificate be mailed to your recipient, please email us at tickets@marylandzoo.org with the recipient’s name, address, and your confirmation number.

*Please note that this is not the actual date and time of the encounter. Once you purchase your Gift Penguin Encounter, you will receive a confirmation email with instructions to forward to your recipient on how to schedule the encounter. The gift recipient will then need to call 443.992.4585 or email tickets@marylandzoo.org in order to choose a specific date and time for their encounter.

Gift an Encounter


Each Penguin Encounter Adoption Package includes:

  • Plush penguin keepsake
  • Two (2) one-time-use Zoo tickets valid for one year
  • Two (2) one-time use Penguin Encounter tickets valid for one year
  • Animal adoption certificate
  • A frameable photograph of one of the Zoo’s penguins
  • Free shipping & handling

Purchase Adoption Package

Important Guidelines & Information:
  • Scheduling – Zoo Experience tickets are for the chosen date and time only. Zoo Experiences are non-transferrable and tickets cannot be used for a different date or time. Zoo Experiences are available on a first-come, first-served basis and fill up quickly. You may need to select another tour date and time if your preferred number of tickets is not available.
  • Additional Experience Guidelines – Children under 8 years of age are not permitted for this Zoo Experience. Children 8 through 15 years of age must be accompanied by a ticketed adult on a 3 child:1 adult ratio. You may share your experience with others.
  • Refunds – Zoo Experience tickets cannot be returned or refunded.
  • Rescheduling – Reservations may be changed up to 48-hours in advance of the scheduled experience and are subject to an Administrative Change Fee. Changes are not permitted within 48-hours of the scheduled experience. Tickets will be forfeited if your party is not present at the start time. Contact us at tickets@marylandzoo.org or call 443-992-4585.
  • Arrival – Zoo Experiences begin promptly at stated time. Once a Zoo Experience has begun, additional guests will not be permitted due to safety and tickets cannot be refunded or rescheduled due to lateness.
  • Dress – Closed-toed shoes are recommended. Shoe cleaning is required for all guests, even those wearing sandals, flip-flops, or open-toed shoes.
  • Accessibility – Zoo Experiences can accommodate guests using wheelchairs; however, strollers are not permitted. Service animals are not permitted on Zoo Experiences. Please contact us at tickets@marylandzoo.org or 443-992-4585 with any accessibility needs in advance of your experience.
  • Cancellation – Zoo Experiences are weather, staff, and animal dependent. The Zoo will contact ticket holders with any changes or cancellations as soon as a decision has been made regarding the status. The Zoo reserves the right to cancel or end an experience for any reason, including guest behavior.


Call 443-992-4585 from 10am-4pm daily or email tickets@marylandzoo.org.