A few weeks ago on a miserably cold day, I loaded the kids in the minivan early in the morning gloom in the hopes of taking in the Calgary Zoo’s new penguin exhibit before the crowds arrived. I’ve been seeing reports of waits of up to two hours just for a 15 minute visit, and with a two-and-a-half-year-old in tow, I knew that wasn’t an option for us.
We arrived just a few minutes after the zoo opened for the day, and headed straight for the exhibit, which is located just inside the main north entrance. Only a handful of other visitors had braved the weatherman’s snowstorm prediction, and with no line behind us, we were free to linger as long as we liked.
The exhibit is absolutely fantastic, and I can’t wait to go back. The dome above is whitewashed and contributes to the atmosphere, making it feel as though you’re surrounding by snow and ice. The penguins waddle around on rocks at eye level, diving constantly into the pool formed by huge sheets of Plexiglas that allow for incredible unobstructed views of their underwater play. The penguins are close enough to touch (though of course, you are not permitted to), and there are four penguin species – Humboldt, Gentoo, Rockhopper and Kings.
If you haven’t been to the zoo to see the penguins yet, it’s a definite must do. Arrive early and avoid the long lines afternoons bring. The animals are always more active in the morning anyway – and you’ll be home before your animals get overtired and cranky.
Want an even closer look? Book a behind the scenes tour!