Rosamond Gifford Zoo at Burnet Park, Penguin Coast
Syracuse, NY

Eighteen endangered Humboldt Penguins have a new home at the Rosamond Gifford Zoo. The $3.7 million Penguin Coast Exhibit is the crowning achievement in a seven-year capital campaign and the zoo’s most ambitious project in twenty years. The main features of the exhibit are a 50,000 gallon penguin pool and six different viewing areas that allow visitors to view the penguins swimming underwater at speeds up to 20 miles per hour, to see the penguins on the rocky beach and in their indoor holding area when the weather gets too chilly or the penguins are molting.

Syska Hennessy Group completed the design of the aquatic life support systems for the new outdoor 50,000 gallon penguin exhibit for this zoo expansion. The scope of design included the water filtration systems for the exhibit including sand filtration, ozone disinfection and biofiltration, as well as infrastructure design.

Humboldt Penguins, which are named after the Humboldt Current that flows along the west coast of the Americas, inhabit hot, dry coastlines and their ideal air temperature ranges from 32 degrees to 70 degrees while their ideal water temperature is 25 degrees to 75 degrees. One significant design challenge was to maintain the required water temperatures for the penguins in the unpredictable climate of upstate New York. Our engineers designed an on-site plant that will maintain a maximum water temperature of 55o Fahrenheit for the penguins in the summertime, and keep the outdoor exhibit from freezing in the winter months.