Beardsley Zoo opens Penguin Plaza

For the past several years, Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo has delighted summer visitors with a special exhibition of temporary guests.

Zoo Director Gregg Dancho believes that the 2016 visitors might very well rank among all-time favorites: Four African penguins (Spheniscus demersus) have moved into their new summer home. Visiting through Sept. 30 are: three males, Tubbs, Sal and South, and one female, Squirt.

As Dancho explained, no one expects these darlings to rough it. Their Penguin Plaza will allow them to “splash and play in a new temporary exhibit featuring a 30,000-gallon pool next to the Peacock Café.” Complementary activities this summer will include wild adventure animal shows, Animal Bytes storytelling and scavenger hunts “designed to help visitors learn and care about penguins.”

This is the first time the state’s only zoo has hosted penguins, Dancho said. “It’s an incredible opportunity for our guests to see these adorable and fascinating animals up close and personal.”

Dancho said the zoo is taking part in a Saving Animals from Extinction conservation project benefiting penguins through the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. The birds live at the Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park in Fort Walton Beach, Fla.

According to the zoo, the penguin diet includes small fish, such as anchovies, sardines, squids and crustaceans, eating about one pound per day; they are less than two feet tall, average eight pounds and are each 12 to 13 years old.

Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo, 1875 Noble Ave., Bridgeport. Open daily 9 a.m.-4 p.m. $15, $12 children (age 3 -11) and $11 (62 and older), free for children younger than 3. Free parking.