Marking the northward annual migration of Adelie penguins, April 25 is World Penguin Day! These birds are incredibly cute with their black and white tuxedo feathers and a walk that waddles right into our hearts. In the animal kingdom only an approximate 4% of species are monogamous and penguins are one of the very few mammals to mate for life! If you have seen Happy Feet, you are already familiar with the absolutely adorable way that penguins have unique calls in order to locate their mates among the huge flocks. What a precious creature, right?!
Of the 17 recognized species, 11 have been listed as Vulnerable or Endangered as of 2018, according to the Antarctic and Southern Coalition. It is time to do our part to protect these flightless fowl of the Antarctic, but what are we expected to do all the way in the Great Smoky Mountains? Well, you not only have a chance to be a part of the fight for these adorable birds’ survival, but you can meet them face-to-face! Make this year’s World Penguin Day an educational vacation you and your family will cherish and instill a valuable lesson of environmental conservation and appreciation in your children. Plus, the mountain cabin views are a nice addition to your World Penguin Day contributions!
Working closely with American Association of Zoos and educational attractions like the Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies, the South African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds (SANCCOB) is responsible for the rehabilitation, treatment, rearing, and release of hundreds of African Penguins each year. Since 2001, SANCCOB has raised over 8,000 penguin hatchlings when eggs were abandoned due to environmental endangerments and subsequently released those penguins back into the wild when deemed ready.
The Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies donated over $6,000 last year to SANCOBB using the proceeds generated from their Penguin Encounters and Paintings! Learn how you can be a part of what World Penguin Day is all about and have an awesome experience with these cuddly creatures native to the Arctic.
The Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies
The Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies is home to more than 10,000 exotic sea creatures including a large flock of African penguins! Listed as one of America’s Best Aquariums by Forbes Magazine and on USA Today’s Top 10 Best List, the Penguin Playhouse is fantastic exhibit with large habitats for the adorable African penguins. Watch them waddle on the rocks above, look up from below the waters as the swim playfully to the glass and away again, and climb into the viewing tunnels where you can stand side-by-side with the penguins!
Pet a Penguin
Want to know what a smooth feathery tuxedo feels like on your hands and experience the penguins with no glass in between you and their curious eyes? Hosted by one of the aquarium’s staff experts, guests can meet and pet one of the friendly African penguins! Children 4 and up can learn all about the penguin as an expert introduces them and then snaps a souvenir photo with their flightless friend! Reservations are recommended, so be sure to check out times and dates available for World Penguin Day!
Painting with Penguins
Watch a penguin artist at work! Sold in the gift shop, as well, Penguin Painting proceeds are used to raise funds for SANCCOB and the daily needs of the endangered African penguins of Ripley’s Aquarium. But if want to be part of the artistic process, Ripley’s offers an extra experience where you and the kids can help pick out colors, laugh, and watch from up-close as the penguin creates your personal canvas art! Parents don’t have to pay a full price to chaperone their little ones, and children as young as 4 can take part of this magical experience and take home an 8×10 Penguin Painting to commemorate their contribution to helping these cute creatures.
Find out more and reserve your tickets for either of these Encounters here!
Adopt a Penguin through SANCCOB
After a visit to the Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies and having your heart warmed by these cold-weathered, tuxedo-wearing waddlers, you may feel inclined to do more this World Penguin Day. Well, why not adopt? Obviously the penguin isn’t coming back to your home to hang out in your bath tub, but by “adopting” one of the current SANCOBB residents, you can be a part of their life! Adoption of one of the SANCCOB penguins includes a certificate, photograph of “your” penguin, a short story of their life, and a letter of thanks from the penguin! Use your cabin’s wireless internet or wait until you get home, but your kids are sure to get a huge kick out of adopting a penguin this World Penguin Day! Fill out your adoption papers and learn more on SANCCOB’s adoption site.
With springtime in the air and cold-weather creatures to be cuddled, make your cabin trip to the Great Smoky Mountains this April a vacation the kids will cherish for years to come and a relaxing much-needed getaway for parents, all in one trip!
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