NEW ORLEANS (press release) – Audubon Aquarium of the Americas’ highly popular Backstage Penguin Pass experience, that offers guests a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for an up-close encounter with an endangered African penguin, has returned. This revamped experience has been adapted to meet social distancing guidelines and procedures.
“We are so excited to safely bring this educational experience back to our visitors,” said Vice President and Managing Director of Audubon Aquarium of the Americas Rich Toth. “Our African penguins at the Aquarium serve as ambassadors, inspiring guests to take action to conserve our oceans.”
As an aspect of COVID-19 procedures, this 45-minute program is formulated for family units and 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, during the experience, to answer questions and guide them through the experience. Guests will learn about penguins and how the Aquarium cares for them. Plastics have entered into all marine habitats and every level of the ocean food chain. Whales, fish, penguins, zooplankton, and numerous other animals are eating trash. Approximately 80 percent of marine debris comes from land-based sources – streets to streams to rivers to oceans. Audubon Aquarium is committed to reducing its use of single-use plastics and hopes that guests can learn by example.
The Backstage Penguin Pass ticket also includes admission to Audubon Aquarium of the Americas before or after the scheduled Wild Encounter. Currently two times are available to book on Saturdays at 10:30 AM and 2:00 PM. Advance tickets are recommended. For reservations call 1-800-774-7394 at least two weeks prior to visiting the Aquarium.
Audubon Aquarium’s African penguins are part of the AZA Species Survival Plan, a collaborative conservation effort among the Association of Zoos and Aquariums institutions. The Aquarium works closely with the AZA’s Saving Animals From Extinction (SAFE) program, which focuses 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. The African penguins at the Aquarium serve as ambassadors, teaching guests about the plight of this species in the wild due to human-wildlife conflict.