Mote Aquarium to Bring Penguins to Sarasota, Fla.

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Mote Aquarium to Bring Penguins to Sarasota, Fla.

Mar 29, 2011

Mote Aquarium is excited to announce that we will be welcoming some truly cool guests later this year: A group of black-footed penguins will call Sarasota, Fla. home during a special new exhibit called Penguin Island!


During this limited-time exhibit, visitors will have the chance to meet and learn more about these “black-tie” guests through daily visits and special meet-and-greet opportunities.


Penguins might seem like exotic tourists for sunny Florida, but not all penguins live in chilly climates. The black-footed penguins coming to Mote Aquarium are native to South Africa, where the ocean currents are cold and the climate is moderate.


Endangered in the wild, black-footed penguins (Spheniscus demersus) face some of the same threats as marine life in the Gulf of Mexico — lack of food due to overfishing and environmental changes, oil pollution, habitat destruction and sea-level rise. By showcasing a far-away species that faces the same risks as many of the marine animals in our own Gulf of Mexico, we hope to highlight the importance of working globally for marine conservation.


Plus: Penguins are just plain cool!


“Mote brings the oceans to life by educating people about marine species near and far, and these penguins are excellent ambassadors for ocean conservation beyond our shores,” said Dan Bebak, Vice President for Mote Aquarium. “We’re excited to be the first group to bring penguins to the area.”


Penguin Island — expected to be the first of numerous new temporary exhibits showcased at Mote Aquarium — will open Nov. 1, 2011, and run through Feb. 29, 2012. “By hosting temporary exhibits like Penguin Island, we hope to support the region’s wider tourism efforts to create new reasons for visitors to come to Sarasota for the first time, as well as provide our snowbird friends — no pun intended — with new reasons to come back again and again,” Bebak said.


As part of Penguin Island, Mote is debuting a brand-new penguin mascot this month — and giving the public the opportunity to help us name our newest ocean ambassador. Mote Aquarium will also host special events and programs starting this month.


The four penguins coming to Mote Aquarium will be visiting from their permanent home at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom in Vallejo, Calif. The birds, which can measure up to 27 inches tall and weigh 5-10 pounds each, will live in a climate-controlled habitat and be fed and cared for by specially trained Mote staff.


Starting Nov. 1, guests will be able to visit the penguins daily during normal visiting hours in Mote Aquarium’s courtyard. (There is no additional cost to visit the penguins.) Mote Aquarium guests will also have the opportunity to interact with specially trained Mote penguin caregivers and learn about these fascinating birds and their day-to-day lives during daily narrated training sessions. Special “Breakfast with the Penguins” will take place in November and December for an additional cost.


Mote Aquarium is open from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. seven days per week, including all holidays, at 1600 Ken Thompson Parkway in Sarasota. Tickets are $17 for adults, $16 for seniors (over 65), $12 for kids (ages 4-12) and free for children age 3 and younger. Mote Members always get in free. Learn more at


Learn more and view our Penguin Island video PSA at




Name that Penguin (Mascot)!


Mote is getting pumped up for Penguin Island by debuting a brand new penguin mascot this month. This stylish bird will soon be strutting — er, waddling — around Sarasota, but it still needs one thing: a cool name.


Vote for your favorite penguin name at before April 15, 2011.






For as little as $30, you can adopt a penguin in Mote’s Penguin Island. A portion of the proceeds will support conservation of penguins in the wild.


Adopters will receive a downloadable adoption certificate, photo and fact sheet about black-footed penguins. You can also choose one of our higher level adoption packages for other great items, including a plush toy, a Mote window cling, tickets to Mote Aquarium and more. Visit




Penguin Island Events for your Calendar





* Penguin Island mascot appears around Sarasota




* May 8: Mother’s Day: Special Penguin Island giveaways for moms who visit Mote Aquarium.




* June 5: Join our Penguin Island mascot at Mote’s World Ocean Day Family Festival.

* June 19: Father’s Day: Special Penguin Island giveaways for dads who visit Mote Aquarium.




* Special summer discount: $5 off tickets to Mote Aquarium for visitors wearing penguin paraphernalia (examples: any penguin T-shirts, hats, pins, etc.).




* Penguin Island fun at Mote’s Halloween event, Night of Fish, Fun and Fright.


November and December


* Nov. 1: Penguin Island opens

* Nov. 1-Dec. 31: Holiday photo ops with Penguin Island mascot and Mote mascot Gilly the Shark

* Nov. 5:

o Penguin Island Party: A family festival with penguin-themed games, crafts and educational activities in the Mote Aquarium courtyard

o Breakfast with the Penguins: Enjoy a delicious breakfast and learn about caring for penguins from specially-trained caretakers at Mote.

* Nov. 10-13: Penguin Island fun at the Siesta Key Crystal Classic Master Sand Sculpting Competition.


* Dec. 3: Breakfast with the Penguins





* Jan. 7: Breakfast with the Penguins




* Feb. 4: Breakfast with the Penguins

* Date TBA: Penguins featured in Mote’s Special Lecture Series

* Late February: Penguin Island Farewell Party


About Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium

Founded in 1955, Mote Marine Laboratory is an independent nonprofit (501(c)3) marine research organization based in Sarasota, Fla., with field stations in eastern Sarasota County, Charlotte Harbor and the Florida Keys. Donations to Mote are tax deductible to the fullest extent allowed by law. We are dedicated to advancing the science of the sea through the study of marine and estuarine ecosystems, through our public Mote Aquarium and through an education division that provides unique programs for all ages. Mote has seven centers for scientific research focusing on sharks, sea turtles and marine mammals, coral reefs, the study of toxins in the environment and their effect on human health, aquaculture, coastal ecology and fisheries enhancement. Showcasing this research is Mote Aquarium, open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. 365 days a year. Learn more at


Contact: Mote Marine Laboratory, 1600 Ken Thompson Parkway, Sarasota, FL 34236. (941) 388-4441 or


About Six Flags Discovery Kingdom

Six Flags Discovery Kingdom, Northern America’s only combination marine life, wildlife and wild rides theme park is comprised of 135-acres in Vallejo, California, between San Francisco and Sacramento. Discovery Kingdom features an incredible line-up of rides and attractions that range from world-class roller coasters to family-friendly rides to land and marine animal attractions, awe-inspiring wildlife shows and once-in-a-lifetime opportunities to see animals up-close through animal interaction programs.



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