The Calgary Zoo‘s Penguin Plunge is now open and the only complaint is that you only get 15 minutes to experience the fun.
To avoid the longer lines, it’s best to arrive as soon as the zoo opens. On weekends, that means crashing the gate at 9a. I arrived at 930 on a Sunday and was met with a 45 minute wait. When we left our appointment an hour later, the long was considerably longer.
60 people can visit Penguin Plunge at a time, and you get 15 minutes of fun with 40 penguins from 4 species. They are characters, these guys. They dive, swim, chat, and splash the entire time. Oh yes, they splash. The intimacy of the exhibit is remarkable. The glass stands just shy of 5 feet high, meaning average adults can easily reach out and touch a penguin, or they can easily splash you.
The Penguin Plunge exhibit is on both sides of a walkway, with penguins plunging and diving underneath and popping up behind you constanly. You can see them swimming through the glass, and they are just the silliest bunch of birds you’ll ever see.
Penguin Plunge includes four penguin species – Humboldt, Gentoo, Rockhopper and Kings. Two of which face serious challenges in the wild.
Humboldt penguins can be found all the way up the coast of Chile near Peru. They prefer temps near 5 degrees above zero, while the King penguins like things colder. For now, the penguins are only inside until the temperatures warm up for the Humboldts, then they’ll get to play outside too.
It’s a shame the zoo doesn’t hand out “appointment slips”, where you could show up and pick up a ticket for 10:15, or 11:00, or 1:30. This would give you time to wander over to the dinosaurs, gorillas, bears, or hippos, instead of standing in the cold for an hour. Alas, they don’t, so line up you must – and it’s worth it.
For other things to do with your family in Calgary, check out the entire “Kids In Calgary“ series.