Hang Out with Little Blue Penguins at The Cincinnati Zoo

This behind-the scenes experience allows guests to get up close with pint-sized penguins.
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These penguins love to come up to guests and explore in the Little Blue Penguin Experience.

Photograph by Victoria Donahoe

Little blue penguins, located in Roo Valley of Cincinnati Zoo, are social creatures found in Australia and New Zealand. These birds are pint sized versions of typical penguin icons like the emperor and king penguin. Now the zoo is letting you spend time with them.

The Cincinnati Zoo offers an up close and personal VIP experience with their little blue penguins— one of the only of its kind in the country. During your experience you’ll get to see them waddle down a ramp into an enclosed area where guests sit on benches and observe as the penguins explore their surroundings. The keeper guides you through what a day in the life of a zoo blue penguin and answers any general questions a guest may have.

The birds are inquisitive animals and love to inspect and peck around visitors, tugging at shoelaces and bottoms of sneakers as guests learn about their behaviors and daily diet. They love to screech and vocalize their excitement, sometimes confusing the keeper. The penguins think that they’re the ones being lectured to, not the guests. Occasionally they’ll drown out the keeper’s words to yell their own.

The duration of the encounter lasts 30 minutes giving you ample time to get close-up pictures of these waddling cuties. Zookeepers and staff let the penguins determine how close they would like to get, but penguins are especially social and love to interact with zoo guests.

This VIP experience supports SANCCOB, a South African foundation aiming to rescue coastal seabird populations. Other behind-the-scenes experiences support their own corresponding animal conservation groups like the Turtle Survival Alliance for The Tremendous Tour-Toise, the International Elephant Foundation for the Elephant Extravaganza, and the Red Panda Network for Roam’n with Red Pandas.

The Little Blue Penguin Experience is offered from April to October. Tickets are $50 and must be purchased online in advance.

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