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Opening April 2, 2023

Coming Soon! Penguins! Past and Present

April 2, 2023 through August 6, 2023

The journey starts over 60 million years ago, with fossils of the ancient ancestors of today’s penguins.

Penguins! Past and Present will showcase the story of the most remarkable birds on Earth. Immersive dioramas, breathtaking videos, and interactive displays will entertain guests and reveal how penguins evolved, how they adapted to some of the most extreme environments in the world, and how they continue to survive in the face of ongoing threats, natural and man-made. This exhibition was chosen as the opening science show for the New Bruce and is curated by Dr. Daniel Ksepka, an internationally recognized expert in penguin evolution who has published groundbreaking research on penguin fossils, feathers, and genomes.

The journey starts over 60 million years ago, with fossils of the ancient ancestors of today’s penguins. Visitors will marvel over a life reconstruction of the giant extinct penguin Kairuku, which weighed over 160lbs, compare the bones of flying seabirds and diving penguins, and examine fossils of species that plied the oceans long before humans appeared.

Moving to the present day, guests will encounter a series of innovative dioramas that illuminate the amazing lives of penguins. Ten different species, ranging from the pint-sized Little Blue Penguin to the towering King Penguin will be featured in scenes depicting penguins diving to pursue their prey, building nests out of stones, and raising their chicks in frozen Antarctica.

Penguins! Past and Present will explore “the inside story”, including an interactive 3D life-size model of a penguin visitors can take apart and put back together. Real taxidermy specimens, feathers, and eggs will be used to highlight the ways penguins use bright colors, insulation, and clever behaviors to thrive from the deserts of the Galapagos Islands to the ice sheets of Antarctica.

Finally, the exhibition will delve into the many positive and negative ways that penguins and humans interact. Visitors will encounter artifacts from wars fought over penguin guano, learn the sad tale of Warham’s Crested Penguin being hunted to extinction 700 years ago, and test their luck on a “Wheel of Survival” illustrating the stark odds a newly hatched penguin faces of not making it through its first year. They will also learn how penguins are being used as models for autonomous submarines and airships, how scientists are using new technologies to count penguins from space, and how “critter cam” cameras spy on penguins underwater. At the end of the exhibition guests can stop at “Emperor Theater” to enjoy breathtaking footage of Emperor Penguins in Antarctica.

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