Where Are They Now?

An eastern cottontail rabbit at Nature Boardwalk at Lincoln Park Zoo.

It’s always hard to say goodbye to old friends, but hearing reports of their new adventures brightens the day. In December and January, 21 penguins and 45 seabirds left Lincoln Park Zoo when the aging Kovler Penguin-Seabird House closed its doors for the last time.

Zookeepers prepared special shipping crates lined with soft carpet over sheets of ice to keep birds cool and comfortable on their journeys. Hundreds of pages of animal histories were sent ahead to receiving zoos; favorite enrichment items and food were all shared with new keepers so they could be prepared for their new charges.

The penguins, puffins and murres were driven or flown to 11 other AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums. They traveled a total of 10,169 miles in the United States and Canada with all 66 birds arriving safely at new homes. Once they arrived, the birds entered a standard 30-day quarantine period before being introduced to their new flocks. Now that the birds have finished quarantine and moved into their new digs, some of their new keepers are sending stories and pictures back to Lincoln Park Zoo to let us know how they’re doing.

Motor City Rock Stars
Seven rockhopper penguins arrived in Detroit to a media fanfare where the local newspaper reported the arrival of the city’s newest “Rock Stars.” One of the rockhoppers, named Jack, lived up to his rock star reputation. Without his favorite fish, Jack refused to eat “backstage” in quarantine. A few phone calls by Detroit Zoo staff to the Lincoln Park Zoo fish supplier ensured that Jack’s special fish order was filled and “the show would go on.”

Penguins on Parade
King penguins Sammie and Bessie are getting out and about in St Louis to enjoy the weather and get some exercise. They are reportedly enjoying the Sunday Penguin Parades at the Zoo. When winter temperatures drop below 40 degrees, penguins at the St Louis Zoo are given the option to take a walk outside on zoo grounds with their keepers. The Lincoln Park Zoo penguins quickly joined the parade.

New Kids on the Block
It’s tough being the new kid. Four Lincoln Park common murres were recently the new kids themselves at Point Defiance Zoo in Tacoma, Washington. The puffins there had never seen murres before and pretty much kept to themselves—not exactly a warm welcome. Shortly after our birds arrived, an injured murre was rescued on the Pacific coastline. The Lincoln Park Zoo birds were the first to take this newbie “under their wings” and help him learn the ropes in their new exhibit. They are all doing well in their new home thanks to this peer support.

Kitchen Capers
Keepers at the Central Park Zoo couldn’t figure out why their new penguins kept “making a break for it,” trying to escape through the door of their comfortable quarantine housing. What the keepers didn’t know was that at Lincoln Park Zoo the door between the penguin exhibit and the Kovler Penguin-Seabird House kitchen was often left open while keepers worked and prepared meals. Many of the penguins liked to visit the keepers in the kitchen and perhaps score an extra treat. The new penguins weren’t really interested in escaping—they just wanted some quality time with their new caregivers!

Swimmingly Good Time

Here’s a video of Lincoln Park Zoo tufted puffin Violet celebrating her new home at the Oregon Coast Aquarium. Thanks to zookeeper Heather Olson for capturing this fun footage.

Colleen Lynch

Colleen Lynch is Lincoln Park Zoo’s Hope B. McCormick Curator of Birds.


Great story!! So glad to hear they all are doing well in their new homes :) They are missed here in Chicago.

I can't wait to share these update with my penquin obcessed son. He missed his penquin pals dearly.

why aren't we going to have penguins anymore? i loved visiting them. i was there in December.

Great seeing the puffin getting on so well and knowing they are all happy. We are sad and will be until they return.

Magnes, after 30 years the Kovler Penguin-Seabird House had aged to the end of its life cycle. We're currently planning the next great exhibit to take its place!

This video clearly captures a penguin enjoying new surroundings at
Oregon Coast Aquarium. Our family is from Washington State. We love birds and other wildlife. We've visited
Oregon's Aquarium and it is outstanding so we're sure your penguins will
be happy there. I am looking forward to visiting Chicago and your Lincoln Park Zoo for the
first time next week!!

You reported on all the penguins except our favorites, the three Chinstraps.
Where are they and how are they doing?

Bobbie, Colleen indicates that one chinstrap penguin joined the group at Central Park Zoo. The other two passed away in recent years, one shortly before the building closed.

Roughly when will the new exhibit be opened? Penguins have always been my favorite animal & now there's nowhere in the city for me to see them for free!

Mari, the new exhibit will likely be several years down the road--we're still planning how to best use the area!

So sad to hear they've left but I agree that the Penguin house had been aged to the limit. I'm devastated that the two chinstraps died, too. Now, what was the other species? Was it the Emperor penguin?

Joe, in addition to chinstrap penguins, the Kovler Penguin-Seabird House was also home to king penguins and rockhopper penguins.

I love the video of the tuffed puffin, Violet. She seems to have adjusted beautifully! I do miss the penguins and seabirds.

Violet Kerbel, LPZ volunteer and Member

So the new exhibit that will be created may not deal with Penguins or SeaBirds at all?

Kate, the plans aren't final, but we are resolving to include penguins in the zoo's future.

I hope it can involve Murres as well! I know they aren't as popular as penguins, but I always found those little guys very charming. They remind me of the chapter of "The Once And Future King" where Arthur gets turned into a bird and spends time on a cliff-side colony.


love it it is so cool

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