Penguin Encounter

Watching our resident Humboldt penguins swim and play at The Living Coast habitat is fun, but did you know you can actually meet them too? When you take part in a Penguin Encounter, you not only get to mingle with these special birds but also learn about their behavior and the details of our conservation work in Punta San Juan (Peru). It's a wonderful experience for the whole family as well as a great way to connect personally to the penguins while learning about the importance of protecting them.

Capacity is limited, be sure to reserve your Penguin Encounter ticket on-line in advance of your zoo visit.



Daily 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.


Click to register for Penguin Encounters 


Please print or bring your Email receipt for entry to a Penguin Encounter at The Living Coast exhibit.
Zoo admission and parking are NOT included.

Encounter Information

During your visit, you will enter the Penguin Encounter room, which is located just past the Humboldt penguin habitat in The Living Coast, right before the building exit.

Encounter: Approximately 30 minutes, depending on the number of guest participants.
Cost: $50 per person
Refund Policy: for information on rescheduling and canceling a program and on our refund policy, please see our Program Policy PDF.

Age: Participants must be at least 5 years old; children between ages 5 and 18 must be accompanied by an adult.
Maximum Group Size: 20 Participants

Service Animals: For the safety of the animals and other guests, service animals are not allowed in the Penguin Encounter room. With advance notice, reasonable accommodations can be made.

What to Expect

Your Arrival
The Penguin Encounter room is located in The Living Coast just past the Rocky Shores penguin habitat as you head towards the building exit. A penguin keeper will be at the encounter room 15 minutes prior to your scheduled encounter. Please be considerate of the other encounter participants and arrive on time. Once penguins enter the encounter room, admittance will not be allowed.  You will hear about our resident Humboldt penguins, their behavior and fun facts, plus learn some basics on how to safely interact with our resident ambassador penguins.

Penguin Arrival
The penguins will arrive with a second keeper and the birds will be allowed to mingle with the encounter participants. Like people each of the penguins have distinct personalities and interests. They’re allowed to interact with whoever they choose!

During the Penguin Encounter
During the encounter one keeper will accompany the penguin through the group of participants while the other shares details of our conservation work in Punta San Juan (Peru) with the penguin’s wild counterparts. The penguins participate in the encounter by their own free choice, walking the short distance from their exhibit to the encounter room.

Please feel free to take pictures as cameras are welcome, but for the welfare of the birds, no flashes.

Penguins Waddle Back
At the end of the encounter the penguins will bid the guests farewell and waddle back to their exhibit to be with their friends. The staff will answer any additional questions you have. We challenge you to remember the color of the penguin’s wing band and then see if you can find identify it in the flock on exhibit!