NEW ORLEANS (press release) – This Valentine’s Day, gift someone special a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for an up-close encounter with an African penguin. Audubon Aquarium of the Americas has revamped its beloved Backstage Penguin Pass experience to meet COVID safety guidelines, including social distancing, just in time for Valentine’s Day.

“Give the penguin lover in your life the gift that gives back this Valentine’s Day,” said Vice President and Managing Director of Audubon Aquarium of the Americas Rich Toth. “Our endangered African penguins at the Aquarium serve as ambassadors, teaching guests about the plight of this species in the wild due to human-wildlife conflict. We encourage participants to take action and keep the sea plastic free by refusing, reducing, reusing, and recycling plastics.”

Audubon Aquarium’s African penguins are part of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Species Survival Plan, a collaborative conservation effort among AZA-accredited institutions such as Audubon Zoo and Aquarium. The Aquarium works closely with AZA’s Saving Animals From Extinction program, which focuses on leveraging the collective expertise within AZA-accredited facilities to save endangered species. The African penguin is a SAFE priority species due to its decreasing population in the wild, which has gone from 141,000 breeding pairs in 1956 to only about 25,000 today.

As an aspect of COVID-19 procedures, the Backstage Penguin Pass 45-minute program is formulated for household members. Encounters are limited to six participants, six years of age and older. All participants will have temperatures checked upon entry and social distancing guidelines will be followed.

An Aquarium aviculturist will be with guests to answer questions and guide them through the experience. Guests will learn about penguins and how the Aquarium cares for them.

The Backstage Penguin Pass ticket also includes admission to Audubon Aquarium of the Americas before or after the scheduled program. Backstage Penguin Pass is currently available for three booking times each week: Fridays at 1:30 PM and Saturdays at 10:30 AM and 2:00 PM. Advance tickets are required. For reservations, call 1-800-774-7394 at least two weeks prior to visiting the Aquarium.

Follow this link for more information on the Backstage Penguin Pass program: audubonnatureinstitute.org/backstage-penguin-pass

The public can support Audubon’s continued work to protect and preserve the natural world by contributing to the Audubon Recovery Fund or visiting Audubon Zoo and Audubon Aquarium.