Penguin Chill

View gentoo, macaroni and king penguins year-round in this immersive, indoor exhibit.

Macaroni and Gentoo Penguins at Penguin Chill

About the Exhibit

Please note that the Penguin Chill will be closed from 1:30-2:30 p.m. daily for deep cleaning and animal care.

The ABQ BioPark opened its Penguin Chill exhibit in July 2019. The exhibit features gentoo, macaroni and king penguins, and is the first of its kind in the Southwest.

The 14,550 square foot building includes a 75,589 gallon main tank, above-ground and underwater guest viewing areas, a large interactive educational area and an outdoor deck overlooking the Zoo's main park.

The one-of-a-kind facility features the largest single educational exhibit at the ABQ BioPark, and provides numerous opportunities for visitors to learn about penguins and the detrimental effects of climate change, which is threatening penguins worldwide.

Major features include:

  • A themed main viewing deck will offer a panoramic view to visitors. Standing and seated areas provide visitors with comfortable viewing opportunities
  • A main pool with depths varying from 5-12 feet allows for plenty of space for penguin activity including special public feedings with keepers, swimming and enrichment
  • A glass floor area allows guests to see penguins swimming beneath their feet
  • A fully immersive experience including opportunities to watch underwater behaviors and even step inside a curved glass area with water above and to the sides
  • The largest interactive educational area of any ABQ BioPark Zoo habitat invites guests to learn more about penguins and how they can help with conservation efforts
  • Natural day/night and seasonal lighting cycles help regulate the penguins' hormonal balancing and breeding
  • An outdoor raised deck provides an overlook to the Zoo's Central ParQ and feature restrooms and a themed café
  • A live replication of the Aurora Australis, also known as the southern lights

The Penguins

Macaroni (Eudyptes chrysolophus)

Life span: 15 years

Habitat: Ice-free shorelines

Diet: Krill, fish and squid, captured in ocean dives

Range: Sub-Antarctic and Antarctic Peninsula, various islands

In the 1800s, English sailors arrived to the Falkland Islands where these penguins live. Macaroni penguins have bright yellow feathers on top of their heads. This crazy hairdo reminded the sailors of a flashy fashion trend at home. People adopting this fashion trend were known as "macaroni," so that's how the penguin got its name!

Gentoo (Pygoscelis papua)

Life span: 15-20 years

Habitat: Ice-free areas such as plains, sheltered valleys, cliffs.

Diet: Mainly crustaceans, such as krill, and some small fish.

Range: Large geographical range, many sub-Antarctic islands.

Gentoos can swim at 22 miles per hour, making them the fastest underwater swimming penguin. They can dive up to 300 feet and stay underwater for seven minutes. They have been spotted as far as 16 miles from the coast! And they may make as many as 450 dives for food per day.

King (Aptenodytes patagonicus)

Life span: Up to 20 years

Habitat: Ice-free shorelines

Diet: Small fish, squid and krill

Range: Islands around Antarctica

King penguin parents work together to incubate their single egg for approximately 54 days. They incubate the egg on the tops of their feet under a fold of skin called a brood patch. This helps keep it warm. Chicks stay on the parents’ feet for about 40 days. After that, the chicks form juvenile groups but still rely on their parents for months to feed them until they become independent.