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ABQ BioPark Zoo breaks ground on Penguin Chill

New major exhibit to feature 3 penguin species.

02/14/2017 - Today Mayor Richard J. Berry led a groundbreaking ceremony for the ABQ BioPark Zoo's new Penguin Chill exhibit, the first major project to be funded by the BioPark gross receipts tax.  

Penguin Chill will be an impressive, innovative exhibit featuring three penguin species - gentoo, king and macaroni. 
The 14,550 square-foot building will include 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 ABQ BioPark is one of the most visited attractions for families as well as for tourists in all of New Mexico," said Mayor Richard J. Berry. "I am proud to be here today to break ground on this brand new exhibit, which will add to the overall value of our amazing facilities at the ABQ BioPark. I look forward to seeing the happy faces of all who will get to enjoy and learn about the penguins and perhaps see them for the first time in their lives."
Major features of the Penguin Chill habitat:
  • An Antarctic-themed main viewing deck will offer a panoramic view. Standing and seated areas will provide visitors with comfortable viewing opportunities.
  • A main pool with depths varying from 5-12 feet will allow for plenty of space for penguin activity including special public feedings with keepers, swimming and enrichment.
  • A glass floor area will allow guests to see penguins swimming beneath their feet.
  • Guests will enjoy 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.
  • Penguin Chill will have the largest interactive educational area of any ABQ BioPark Zoo habitat and will invite guests to learn more about penguins and how they can help with conservation efforts.
  • Natural day/night and seasonal lighting cycles will help regulate the penguins' hormonal balancing and breeding.
  • An outdoor raised deck will provide an overlook to the Zoo's Central ParQ and feature restrooms and a themed café.
The roughly $12 million project is expected to take about one year to complete. It is the first major project of the ABQ BioPark master plan to be funded by the gross receipts tax that voters approved in October 2015. Additional funding is being provided by the New Mexico BioPark Society (NMBPS). After review and evaluation of two offerors, HB Construction was awarded the bid to complete the project. 
"After years of planning, we're thrilled that this exciting new exhibit is finally underway," said Julie Miller Rugg, executive director of NMBPS. "Penguins bring not only a conservation message but an entirely new continent to the ABQ BioPark Zoo."
Creating an exhibit of this scale is a joint effort between many city departments and local companies. The ABQ BioPark would like to thank the following companies for their part in the project: 
  • HB Construction
  • TLC Plumbing & Utility
  • Wilson and Company
  • Mullen/Heller Architecture
  • Lee Landscapes
  • Isaacson and Arfman Engineering
  • Ideum
  • Guzman Construction Solutions
  • D.R.B. Electric
  • Bridges & Paxton Consulting Engineers