Niagara Gazette


November 20, 2013

AQUARIUM: Penguins need a temporary home downtown

Niagara Gazette — Somewhere in this city there’s an empty building or warehouse that could be the perfect spot for a colony of temporarily homeless penguins.

Note to that building owner: Gay Molnar is looking for you. 

Molnar, director of the Aquarium of Niagara, is seeking a location downtown, close enough so aquarium staff can easily get to the penguins for care and feeding, while their new home is being built.   

“We’re looking for an extremely generous developer or corporation that has some space ... we want to keep our colony intact,” she said recently.

The new exhibit is part of up to $2.5 million in renovations and upgrades needed which will fortify the aquarium’s application for accreditation from Association of Zoos and Aquariums.  

“What we’re doing is looking towards a multi-phase, complete facelift and renovation of our existing facility,” Molnar said.

The facility has already spent well over $600,000 in upgrades over the last five years, she added. But much more is needed, first and foremost, a new penguin home.

The penguin project will displace a very tight knit little family of nine penguin personalities, according to the keepers.

The oldest penguin the the colony is William, who at about age 35, hails from the original colony established at the aquarium in 1978.  Next oldest is Opus, 25, hand reared at the aquarium, purchased from a collector in Peru. DJ is 23, Tux is 20, then there’s Araya, 16, Lou, 14, Burgess, 13, and and siblings Bobbi and Chile, 7.  

William is the sweetest and his mate, Burgess, is very protective. “She’s all about William,” said Autumn Syracuse, an aquarist who runs the “penguin encounter” program where visitors can spend time with one of the black and white birds.  

William is also the one visitors often get to see more closely. “A lot of times he likes to sit up front at the window,” Syracuse said of the eldest penguin.

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