Experience the zoo from the inside with penguins waddling right at your feet! Get a personal introduction to some of the African penguins living at Robert and Mayari Pritzker Penguin Cove and find out what their daily lives are like both at the zoo and on the southern African coast.
*Ages 6–17 must be accompanied by an adult.
Gift Cards for Zoo Programs
Share the love of wildlife by purchasing a gift card for select Lincoln Park Zoo programs! Purchase one for your child’s class or the animal-lover in your life. Gift cards are valid for virtual and in-person camps (prek–8), Malott Family Penguin Encounters (ages 6 and older), Monthly Action Plan (family program), Zoo Investigations (preK–5), and Zoo Explorers (preK–8).
Choice is important for animal welfare. During Penguin Encounters, zoo staff will invite the penguins to approach your group, but each individual ultimately decides whether or not to enter the space. By monitoring the behavior and movement of each penguin—before, during, and after each encounter—zoo scientists can determine how the program impacts individual welfare. So far, these experiences have had a neutral or positive impact on the colony.
Penguin Encounters last 60 minutes—approximately 15 minutes outside the habitat, 20 minutes in a behind-the-scenes area, and 20 minutes inside the habitat with the penguins.
Interacting with the Penguins
You cannot touch or feed the penguins, but the penguins may choose to approach your group. You must keep your hands on your lap at all times while in the habitat.
Pritzker Penguin Cove is an outdoor exhibit, so you should dress for the weather. The program will take place rain or shine, except when weather conditions pose a threat to either you or the penguins. In the event of cancellation, you will be contacted via email.
Please bring closed-toe shoes. We will provide shoe covers and protective gaiters, which you must wear to enter the habitat, but they can only be worn with closed-toe shoes.
Each Penguin Encounter is limited to eight guests. If there are fewer than eight people in your group, you may be joined by other guests. Everyone in your group must be at least 6 years old, and anyone between the ages of 6 and 17 must be accompanied by an adult, with at least one adult for every four guests under the age of 18.
Small cameras and phones are allowed in the habitat, but large cameras, tablets, selfie sticks, and similar devices are prohibited. You must turn off your flash and remain seated while taking pictures, and staff may ask you to stop taking photos at any time.
Lincoln Park Zoo is committed to providing a safe environment during each Penguin Encounter. While we do our best to minimize the potential for injury, we cannot completely eliminate all risks. Examples of risks include, but are not limited to, the following: wet floors, objects moved or thrown by animals, allergic reactions to animals or to substances used at the zoo, and animal bites and scratches.
If you arrive more than 10 minutes late, you cannot participate in the program. Refunds will not be given.
You can cancel your registration up to two business days prior to a scheduled program to receive a refund, less a 12.5% processing fee. No refunds are given for cancellations within two days of a scheduled program.
If we must cancel a Penguin Encounter, you will receive a refund. During the program, you are guaranteed to enter Pritzker Penguin Cove. No refunds will be given if you enter the habitat but the penguins choose not to enter the program area.