Detroit Zoo announces $21 million penguin exhibit

Detroit Zoo announces $21 million penguin exhibit

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A photo taken by FOX 2's Roop Raj. A photo taken by FOX 2's Roop Raj.
ROYAL OAK, Mich. (AP) -

The Detroit Zoo will be home to the largest center in the U.S. dedicated to penguins, thanks to the most substantial private donation in its history, the zoo announced Wednesday.

Construction on the $21 million facility will begin in March and is expected to open in late 2015.

"We don't think there is anything comparable," Ron Kagan, the zoo's executive director, said at a news event that featured a 3-D film and "snow" that fell on attendees. "To the best of our knowledge, this is the largest ... facility that is entirely dedicated to penguins."

The 24,000-square-foot center is being made possible, in part, by the biggest private donation in the zoo's history, $10 million given by Stephen Polk and his family. Polk is the former CEO of the R.L. Polk Co.

As a result, the facility will carry the name The Polk Family Penguin Conservation Center.

The exterior of the center will look like an iceberg. Inside, visitors will have the opportunity to see penguins "deep dive" above them in a chilled 310,000-gallon, 25-foot-deep aquatic area. It is something that can't be seen anywhere else, even in nature, the zoo said.

The center, which will be home to 80 penguins of four species, is to be built on a 2.1-acre site near the entrance to the zoo, which is in suburban Royal Oak.

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Online: http://www.detroitzoo.org

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