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LAFAYETTE — The Columbian Park Zoo has announced the official arrival date for their new African penguins.

Seven of the nine total penguins will be making their arrival July 29 and will be on display for the public July 30, at the Columbian Park Zoo’s “Penguin Day.”

The new Penguin Cove exhibit was funded by the City of Lafayette and supported by Don and Lois Stein and family through a gift to the Lafayette Parks Foundation.

“The Stein family is proud and honored to be associated with the new penguin exhibit,” said Lori Stein Sabol. “My parents, Don and Lois, had a love for penguins and started the process of bringing penguins to the Columbian Park Zoo some 10 years ago. While unfortunately my parents are no longer with us, seeing this come to fruition feels as though a part of them is with the exhibit and their legacy lives on.”

The African penguin is classified as an endangered species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. The penguins coming to the Columbian Park Zoo are all captive-bred and will be traveling from Six Flags Discovery Kingdom in Vallejo, Calif. They will be accompanied by a zookeeper and vet tech, who will help transition the birds to their new habitat in Lafayette.

“We can’t tell you how excited we are to finally be able to celebrate the arrival of our penguins,” said Neil Dale, zoo director. “This project saw many delays due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and then again this spring when we had to wait for our birds to molt.”

Dale says two of the nine total birds will stay behind while they complete their molting process. They will join the other seven birds at Columbian Park Zoo as soon as they can safely travel.

“We know the community has been patiently awaiting the penguin arrival for a long time, so (July 29) will be a very special day.”

People will get a sneak peek and first glimpse at the new residents from 5-7 p.m. July 29 when the Columbian Park Zoo will be open for members only. Attendees will get an exclusive first look at the new penguins and enjoy giveaways, photo opportunities and more. A member ID will be required for entry.

On July 30, the zoo will celebrate “Penguin Day” and be open to the public for regular hours, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Attendees will enjoy African penguin education presentations, a coloring contest, giveaways and photo opportunities.

“We are proud to be able to share this exhibit with the community,” said Lafayette Mayor Tony Roswarski. “When we developed our Columbian Park Zoo Master Plan in the late 1990s, the community told us they wanted penguins, so we are very grateful to the Stein family for helping us make this a reality. It’s truly an incredible new addition to our zoo and our city.”

For more information about Penguin Day at the Columbian Park Zoo, call 765-807-1540 or visit columbianparkzoo.org.

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