The first three penguins for the Kansas City Zoo's new exhibit arrived Thursday after being picked up at the Sedgwick County Zoo in Wichita. (Facebook: Kansas City Zoo)
KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) -
They were three VIPS who waddled into Kansas City on Thursday to great fanfare.
The Very Important Penguins traveled via van in animal cages from the Sedgwick County Zoo to the Kansas City Zoo. The van arrived just after 5 p.m. Thursday.
The Humboldt penguins are warm-water birds who will have their own indoor-outdoor section of the new $15 million Helzberg Penguin Plaza, which is expected to open in late October. The Humboldt penguins naturally nest on the coasts of Peru and Chili.
Altogether, the zoo will have four species of penguins. The 100-gallon underwater exhibit will open with a dozen warm-weather penguins and 40 cold-weather penguins.
Zoo visitors will be able to see the indoor sections intended for the cold-water penguins through multiple viewing areas, including a 60-foot viewing area.
"We are very, very excited for the penguins to come," said Kelly Switzer, a stalwart zoo supporter who was at the zoo on Thursday with her family. "It's been well worth the wait."
Kelly Switzer and her family on Thursday watched the zoo's rock star polar bear, Nikita, swim through his home.
The zoo has a second polar bear, Berlin, who is relaxing off exhibit as zoo officials hope she has cubs later this year.
Zoo Director Randy Wisthoff made getting polar bears and penguins a priority once he arrived in Kansas City. He can now check both off his bucket list.
He is especially proud of how the penguin plaza is coming together.
"You can get your nose on the glass and the penguins can get their beaks on the glass. It's a really up close and personal experience," he said.
Switzer can't wait.
"It's a world-class zoo and the penguins are going to make it that much better," she said.
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