Dakota Zoo welcomes new residents — penguins!

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There is something new at the Dakota Zoo…its first-ever penguin exhibit!

It’s a project 18 years in the making between planning, fundraising for the new facility and organizing to get the penguins to the Capital City. Now, six male African Penguins are calling the zoo home.

“Because they are from warmer climates, they have special little adaptations to help keep them cool. They’ve got kind of red around their faces and those are blood vessels that are close to the skin and so water and even cooler air can kind of help cool their body temperature,” said Terry Lincoln, Dakota Zoo director.

The penguins were flown in from three different zoos: the San Diego Zoo, the Pueblo Zoo in Colorado and Busch Gardens in Florida.

Lincoln says the African penguin species, in particular, are highly endangered.

“Where they’re found there’s a lot of people around and so not all interactions with people are positive. So if there’s an oil barge or something like that’s going by and runs into problems, gets blown off course with a storm and it lands on the rocks, how many penguins suffer from that? How many die?” said Lincoln.

The zoo says the goal with new additions are education, conservation, research and entertainment.

Families from all over couldn’t wait to set their eyes on the new neighbors.

“I am looking forward to seeing all the penguins and learning their names. I like how they walk. It’s funny how they walk,” said Cassie Whal.

The plan is to bring female penguins next year to join these six guys.

The six male penguins will essentially play tour guides to their new female companions.

Lincoln says that penguins are actually the most requested animal that people have been asking for for years.

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