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The Detroit Zoo will use a $10 million donation to build a penguin conservation exhibit, which will be the largest in the U.S. The exhibit is estimated to cost approximately $21 million.
According to WXYZ, Stephen and Bobbi Polk donated the money to the zoo, the largest sum of money given to the zoo in its 85-year history. Because of their sizeable donation, the exhibit will be called The Polk Family Penguin Conservation Center.
The Associated Press reports that construction will begin in March, setting a hopeful completion date for late 2015.
"We don't think there is anything comparable,” the zoo’s executive director and CEO Ron Kagan said of the penguin exhibit. To the best of our knowledge, this is the largest ... facility that is entirely dedicated to penguins."
The huge 24,000-square-foot penguin enclosure will look like an iceberg. Inside, there will be a 310,000-gallon, 25-foot-deep tank for the birds to swim around in while visitors watch.
"Penguins will literally be doing laps around us," said Kagan.
"80 penguins of four different species - rockhopper, macaroni, king and gentoo - will live in the zoo’s pool.
The feature is deeper and larger than the pool at the Arctic Ring of Life, one of the zoo's main attractions in which polar bears swim above visitors.
The large tank will give the animals a great home where they can dive, nest, and rear young like they would in the wild. There will also be simulated arctic blasts, rough waves and snow to allow the penguins to feel even more at home.
Jones & Jones designed the center, which has been in the works for two years now. The architects also designed Disney's Animal Kingdom and the Detroit Zoo's Arctic Ring of Life where the polar bears live and swim.
Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons