Polk Penguin Conservation Center

The Polk Penguin Conservation Center is the most extraordinary center for penguins in the world.

Among the most spectacular features of the 33,000-square-foot facility is a 326,000-gallon, 25-foot-deep aquatic area where visitors can watch as more than 75 penguins of four species explore their habitat. An underwater gallery with a vast acrylic window and two acrylic tunnels provides breathtaking views of the birds above, around and below, and allows guests to get nose to beak with the charismatic birds!

Inspired by Sir Ernest Shackleton’s legendary Antarctic expedition and epic crossing of the Drake Passage, the penguin center evokes the harsh and visceral ice world of the southern continent, recreated in a 360-degree 4-D entry experience that includes blasts of polar air and sea mist. A cool video and sound feature called projection mapping depicts a phenomenon known as iceberg calving – one of nature’s most dramatic spectacles where icebergs split and send massive cascades of ice crashing into the sea.

Reminiscent of a tabular iceberg with a crevasse and waterfall, the striking exterior conjures the stark and beautiful Antarctic icescape – right in the heart of Southeast Michigan!

The Polk Penguin Conservation Center received the 2017 Exhibit Award from the Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA). The award is the top honor bestowed annually upon accredited institutions for excellence in exhibit design by the AZA, the accrediting body for zoos and aquariums in the U.S. and seven other countries worldwide.

Member Early Open

The Polk Penguin Conservation Center is closed through mid-June 2020 for waterproofing repairs to the foundation. The penguins have moved to the former Penguinarium while their home is being refurbished and are receiving the same expert care as always by the Detroit Zoological Society’s bird keeper staff. Beginning in October, our valued Members are invited to visit the Detroit Zoo an hour before it opens to the general public on weekends through March of 2020. This will allow you to spend more time enjoying the many other wonderful habitats and experiences at the Zoo, including the new Devereaux Tiger Forest and the Holtzman Wildlife Foundation Red Panda Forest.

As work on the penguin center progresses, your understanding and support is greatly appreciated.   Learn More