CINCINNATI, OH (August 18, 2020) – Spacious new habitats for little blue penguins and two species of kangaroos opened to the public this morning at the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden. Both are part of Roo Valley, which was funded through the Zoo’s More Home to Roam capital campaign and also includes Hops craft beer garden and Kanga Klimb, an ADA-accessible adventure ropes course that will open in 2021.
“The goal of our More Home to Roam campaign is to provide better homes for animals and a better experience for visitors,” said Cincinnati Zoo director Thane Maynard. “You can’t get any better than the habitat we’ve built for our little blue penguin colony, which includes huge pools inside and out and is the first to offer both beach and underwater viewing.”
The animal staff was instrumental during the design phase of Roo Valley and, as a result, enrichment opportunities have been built into the habitats. For the penguins, this includes fans, misters, sprinklers, underwater jets, heat lamps, heated rocks, multiple substrates, and underwater elements that create a complex environment. All of these promote natural behaviors for overall optimal health and wellbeing. A lot of these features allow the colony to stay outside longer during the year when cooler temperatures would normally dictate otherwise.
“It was great to see visitors’ reactions when the little blue penguins swam right in front of them! Roo Valley provides a truly unique opportunity to bring our community close enough to care,” said Maynard.
Visitors also got close to the seven kangaroos, that are about six feet tall when standing upright, and posed for selfies! Masks are required in the area, but that didn’t ruin a good photo opp! The walkabout provides a lush and beautiful backdrop.
Cincinnati has the most productive breeding colony of little blue penguins thanks to a husbandry protocol developed by the Zoo’s bird team. The Zoo started with 6 birds in 1999 and has hatched over 100 chicks since then. There are 34 birds in the current population, and the new habitat can accommodate 50!
The water that flows through Roo Valley, and in the penguin pool, is 100% rainwater that’s being collected in 100K-gallon-capacity stormwater tanks and stored under the habitat. Other sustainability features built into the space include a green roof over the penguin habitat and a huge geothermal well system that assists in heating and cooling the pools and cuts the energy usage roughly in half.
Become a Zoo member today so you can visit the ‘roos and little blues often! Other member perks include Early Entry*, free parking, no reservations required between 2 p.m. and 4 p.m., and discounts on food and retail. It’s all part of your Summer Adventure at the Cincinnati Zoo, presented by Cincinnati-Northern Kentucky Honda Dealers. *NOTE: Reservations are required for all guests.
A huge thank you to The Craig Young Family Foundation, the James J. and Joan A. Gardner Family Foundation, the Helen G., Henry F. and Louise T. Dornette Foundation, Fifth Third Bank Trustee, G. Richard Thomas & Jane S. Thomas, Paycor, Bob and Jeanne Coughlin, and The Burchenal Family for making Roo Valley possible.