A Cast of Characters
Helzberg Penguin Plaza opened its doors in October 2013. It's currently home to king penguins, macaroni penguins, gentoo penguins, and chinstrap penguins. You can see all of them swimming and strolling around in this cold-weather habitat. The Kansas City Zoo is also home to a family of Humboldt penguins that live in a separate warm-weather habitat.
All of the penguins have names, and Zoo staff can tell them apart by the bands they wear on their wings. Look closely and you may be able to see names on some of the bands.
You might also notice that Elvis, one of our king penguins, wears down the feathers in a spot on his belly. We believe he's rubbing his belly on the ramps as he gets out of our pools. He tends to be one of our heavier penguins.
Once a year, each penguin will molt, or shed its feather and grow new ones. You’ll be able to tell when this is occurring as it makes the penguins look a little scruffy!
Home Sweet Home
Penguins live in very large groups in the wild. They like to live together in close quarters, but need space to swim, nest, and rest, all of which we have at the Zoo. The air and water in the enclosure are both kept at a cool 45° F. The lighting is also set to simulate their natural habitat.
We feed the penguins twice per day, at 10 am and 3 pm, and they get to eat as much as they want. How much each penguin eats is recorded to help monitor their health. You'll often see zookeepers on camera, moving in and out of the enclosure to feed and care for the penguins.