While penguins may not cross your mind when you think of African wildlife, the flightless birds do live on the continent’s southern tip. At Busch Gardens Tampa, you can see African penguins in Penguin Point, located near the Nairobi train station.
Open Date: Late 2014
Replaced: Asian Small-Clawed Otters
During Christmas Town in 2012 and 2013, the Asian small-clawed otter habitat was temporarily modified for African penguins on loan from SeaWorld Orlando as part of the holiday event. After the event each of those years, the otters returned to their habitat.
In early May 2014, an African penguin egg arrived at the park from the Georgia Aquarium. It later hatched on May 29. The male baby penguin was named Banks and was hand-reared by the animal care staff.
During the summer of 2014, six more penguins arrived from the Metro Richmond Zoo in Virginia. The oldest of the six penguins that arrived from Virginia were brother and sister pair Curry and Dijon. Male penguin Marino hatched in February 2014. Mary Katherine, better known as MK to keepers, hatched in March 2014. Tang was the second-largest male at the time and also hatched in March 2014. Lloyd was the largest male at the time, weighing 8 pounds.
Once Banks was old enough to swim, he was slowly introduced to the rest of the colony in the summer and fall months. By Thanksgiving of 2014, when Christmas Town opened for the season, the seven penguins were on display in their new home, Penguin Point. They would become permanent residents there, with the Asian small-clawed otters moving to Kulu Canopy in Jungala to the gibbon habitat, sharing the space with them.
Two more penguin chicks hatched in November 2014 at Busch Gardens.
The holiday-themed signs for Penguin Point remained until the spring of 2015 when new signage sharing some facts about African Penguins was installed on the wall next to the habitat. As of October 2015, there were a total of nine African penguins in the habitat.
New signs for Penguin Point were installed in March 2016 and included information about African Penguins, where they are found in the wild, and promotion of the Penguin Insider Tour.
As of April 2017, there were a total of 14 African penguins in the habitat.
In September 2018, several chicks were born. By mid-December, they joined the other penguins on the habitat.
For Penguin Awareness Day 2019, the park brought the hatchlings from the fall to the Animal Care Center for up-close encounters throughout the weekend of January 19 and 20. A special discount on penguin-themed merchandise was also available at select shops.
During Christmas Town 2021, several recently hatched penguin chicks made a visit to Santa’s North Pole Experience where their genders and names were revealed.
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Busch Gardens Tampa | Oct 9 2015 – accessed 10/16/2015
Twitter – @BuschGardens | Oct 11 2018 – accessed 8/1/2019
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Twitter – @BuschGardens | Jan 15 2019 – accessed 8/3/2019
Twitter – @BuschGardens | Jan 20 2019 – accessed 8/3/2019
Pixels At The Parks | May 2 2015 – accessed 10/9/2016
Pixels At The Parks | Apr 5 2016 – accessed 4/17/2016
Busch Gardens Tampa Bay | Apr 25 2017 – accessed 4/16/2021
Twitter – @BuschGardens | Dec 8 2021 – accessed 12/8/2021
Last update: February 25, 2023