Starting next summer, the La Jolla institution will add the Beyster Family Little Blue Penguins habitat. At less than 12 inches tall and weighing just two to three pounds, Little Blues are the smallest species of penguin and are known for their unique blue color and big personalities.
Six Little Blue Penguins from Dallas World Aquarium are currently behind-the-scenes at Birch Aquarium. Ten additional birds are expected to arrive from Australia ahead of the opening.
Increase Visitor Interest
“We are so very excited to be adding the Beyster Family Little Blue Penguins to Birch Aquarium at Scripps,” said Harry Helling, executive director at Birch Aquarium. “The new facility will allow us to contribute to an international Species Survival Plan and create an interesting new guest experience. Little Blue Penguins will be wonderful ambassadors that can help us to engage our community more deeply and further our mission to connect understanding to protecting our ocean planet.”
The COVID-19 pandemic has significantly impacted the arts, zoos and aquariums, according to reports. The creation of the new habitat can help generate revenue for an institution by increasing visitor interest and length, states MuseumHack.com, a New York City-headquartered company that reimagines and inspires new adult museum experiences.
Small Amphitheater, Discovery Cave
In the Beyster Family Little Blue Penguins display, guests will learn about some of the challenges facing these birds in the wild. The 2,900-square-foot exhibit will include rocky and sandy shore habitat and an 18,000-gallon pool. It will also include a small amphitheater for guests to observe birds swimming, as well as a discovery cave for children to closely watch Little Blue Penguins on land and inside a nesting box.
“Little Blue Penguins and other seabirds are sentinel species for our ocean’s health and help us understand how we can be better stewards for our planet,” said Jenn Nero Moffatt, senior director of animal care, science and conservation at Birch. “Penguins, by their unique nature, are adored by our community and in this way help to serve as great animal ambassadors. We hope that one look at their awkward waddling, their pint-sized bodies, torpedo swimming and social nature will leave our guests enchanted and wanting to learn how to aid in conservation efforts.”
Beyster Little Blue Penguins is named in honor of a $1 million gift from the Beyster Family; the San Diego-based brood is a long-time supporter of Scripps Institution of Oceanography and Birch Aquarium.
“Their graceful swimming and diving abilities and awkwardness on land have endeared these little Southern Australian marine animal ambassadors to the Beyster Family,” said James Beyster. “We are proud to support Birch Aquarium’s mission to shed light on the survival challenges that Little Blue Penguins face along with other seabird species.”
Completion by Spring
Ground-breaking for the Beyster Family Little Blue Penguins habitat will begin on Sept. 27. As a result, Birch Aquarium will be closed Sept. 27-30. The completion is expected by spring.
EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR: Harry Helling
HEADQUARTERS: La Jolla
OPERATING BUDGET: $9M Annually
NOTABLE: The summer camp program served 1,361 students