(CBS) – The African penguins at the Denver Zoo have a whole new home. The Pinnacol African Penguin Point opened in September, replacing the old exhibit at Bird World. On CBSN Denver, we spoke to Vertix Builders, who helped bring this new habitat to life.
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âOne of the first things customers will notice is the two-level visualization,â says Ted Laszlo, vice president of Vertix Builders. âThere is almost 40 feet of clear acrylic that allows penguins to be seen both under and over the water. We also have a small wave ball which is hidden on the side of the exhibit. It helps keep the water moving and makes it a bit more appealing for the penguins to jump in and it also gives guests something to do. “
Laszlo says that creating this exhibit took a lot of collaboration. The team worked with the Denver Zoo, design partners, and even pool experts to understand the needs of penguins.
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âThey are not penguins in cold weather. They are African penguins, so we learned a lot about their behavior to create this exhibit, âsays Laszlo. âThey’re actually sensitive to very cold and very hot temperatures, so we had to provide them with adequate shade. We also created heated rocks to keep them warm in the winter. If you really pay attention to the exposure, you will notice many different types of surfaces that keep their feet healthy.
Laszlo says the best part of creating this exhibit is seeing visitors enjoy the space.
âI was there and a two year old boy was pressed against the glass and said, ‘I wish I could go over there and give the penguin a hug.’ To be able to make these children’s days is pretty fantastic.
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This is not Laszlo’s first foray into exhibition work. Vertix Builders was also behind the newly renovated Space Odyssey exhibit at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science.