Polk Penguin Conservation Center Information

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Thank You!

$5 million
$10 million
$15 million
$20 million
$25 million
$30 million
Current Amount:
$26.5 million

Opens April 18

The Polk Penguin Conservation Center is the largest and 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 80 penguins of four species explore their habitat. Two acrylic underwater tunnels provide breathtaking views as the birds swim and soar above and around visitors – and even below.

  • Admission Information

    Admission is free, but timed-entry passes are required.

    • There is a lot of excitement surrounding the Polk Penguin Conservation Center, which will likely draw an unprecedented number of visitors.
    • Timed-entry passes are required to manage crowds and ensure an enjoyable experience for all guests.
    • Timed entry reserves a specific time slot for each guest to visit the penguin center.
    • Timed-entry passes are available on a first-come, first-served basis at admissions on the day of your visit.
  • An Antarctic Adventure

    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 arctic blasts, waves and snow. A cool video feature called “projection mapping” depicts a phenomenon known as iceberg calving – one of nature’s most dramatic visual spectacles where icebergs split, sending 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!

    An extraordinary exhibit called “Sir Ernest Shackleton Endurance Expedition 1914-1917: Triumph Against All Odds” is on display at the Wildlife Interpretive Gallery through September 7 and is free with Zoo admission. The exhibition features 150 photographs taken by Frank Hurley – a member of the Endurance crew – as well as video clips and replications of artifacts from the expedition.

  • FAQs

    How much does it cost to visit the Polk Penguin Conservation Center?

    Admission to the penguin center is free with Detroit Zoo admission; however, to ensure an enjoyable experience for all guests, timed-entry passes are required.

    What is timed entry?

    Timed entry reserves a specific time slot for each guest to visit the penguin center.

    Why is timed entry necessary?

    Timed entry is necessary to avoid excess crowds in the penguin center. There may be days when the building reaches capacity and not all guests can be accommodated.

    Can I obtain my timed-entry passes online in advance or do I have to acquire them the day of my visit?

    Timed-entry passes are available on a first-come, first-served basis at admissions on the day of your visit; the passes are not available online.

    Are Detroit Zoo Members permitted to enter the penguin center whenever they choose?

    All guests who wish to visit the penguin center – both Members and non-members – are required to obtain a timed-entry pass upon entering the Zoo.

    Can Members obtain timed-entry passes at the Rackham Fountain entrance?

    Yes, passes will be available to Members at the Rackham Fountain entrance.

    May I choose what time I want to visit the penguin center?

    A designated time will be printed on your timed-entry pass so that you can plan your visit accordingly.

    What is there to do while I wait to see the penguins?

    An extraordinary exhibit called “Sir Ernest Shackleton Endurance Expedition 1914-1917: Triumph Against All Odds” is on display at the Wildlife Interpretive Gallery through September 7 and is free with Zoo admission. The exhibition features 150 photographs taken by Frank Hurley – a member of the Endurance crew – as well as video clips and replications of artifacts from the expedition.

    Can I bring a stroller into the Polk Penguin Conservation Center?

    Strollers must be left in the designated stroller-parking area outside of the penguin center entrance (similar to what is in front of the Wildlife Interpretive Gallery).

    When is the fountain open?

    The fountain is open when the extended forecast indicates that the temperature will not drop below freezing.

    Are swim diapers and towels be available for the fountain?

    Yes; swim diapers and towels are available for sale in The Drake Passage Gift Shop at the penguin center.

    When does skating start?

    Skating is scheduled to begin November 1 (subject to weather).

    Can I have an event at the Polk Penguin Conservation Center?

    Yes; for event rental information, please contact Event Coordinator Sherri Chmiel at [email protected].

    What will become of the Penguinarium?

    The Penguinarium will be converted into a bat conservation center.