An article I submitted to Long Island Trends for their February edition.
If you and the kids are looking for a cool and educational day trip on Long Island, be sure to visit the Long Island Aquarium & Exhibition Center this weekend to get up close and personal with some playful African penguins.
Located at the heart of Riverhead, the Long Island Aquarium & Exhibition Center is the home to thousands of sea-dwelling creatures that come in many shapes and sizes. The Long Island Aquarium & Exhibition Center is also home of the Riverhead Foundation for Marine Research and Preservation, an organization dedicated to protecting marine life and coastlines. The organization is recognized as the only authorized marine mammal and sea turtle rescue and rehabilitation center in the state of New York.
Opening in July 2010, the Penguin Encounter is one of the aquarium’s most recent and exciting attractions, where anyone over five years of age can experience the once-in-a-lifetime, 45 minute interactive opportunity to have a close up encounter with an African penguin. There are a total of 14 black-footed African penguins on exhibit, three of which were hatched and raised there. The Encounter starts off in the Penguin Pavilion, which is the main exhibit, where guests can learn about these wonderful birds, how the aquarium’s animal experts care for them, and the inner workings of the penguins’ environment. During this time, a few of the curious feathered residents usually waddle over to hang out with the guests. Some may even shake their tail feathers. The original crew of penguins were all named after characters on the show, Seinfeld, and the three newest were named after characters from the show, The Office, so the encounter is bound to be an entertaining time.
After learning about the penguins, guests are taken to Penguin Preschool, where they are able to touch and get up close with at least one of the youngest penguins. Guests do not get to feed them, but can watch them dine on a seafood lunch during their feeding times at 10:15 and 2:00. The penguins eat a variety of fish, mainly consisting of herring and capelin. These birds like to eat and they grow quickly. When they hatch, they weigh about 60-70 grams, and by the time they’re three months old, they are almost fully grown. African penguins are small, with adults weighing about six to eight pounds.
Children must be accompanied by a paying adult to venture into the Penguin Encounter, and everyone is invited to take photos with the penguins. During this memorable interaction, photos are a must to capture the breathtaking meet-and-greet forever. After the encounter, each guest will receive a souvenir beach ball.
The Long Island Aquarium & Exhibition Center is dedicated to educating people of all ages about the ocean and its inhabitants we share the planet with. There are many events and classes offered by the aquarium, like their astonishing sea lion shows, and there are plenty of programs about fish, dolphins, sharks, seahorses, and just about any other sea creature you can imagine. Going on a guided tour throughout the aquarium is always an inspiring experience, but most visitors would agree that there is nothing more rewarding than being able to interact with an adorable, friendly African penguin at the Penguin Encounter.
For $50 per person, the Penguin Encounter is a behind the scenes opportunity like no other. Guests are encouraged to make reservations prior to their visit, as the Penguin Encounter is a popular program. Not only is it a miraculous way to spend the day, but the educational benefits are fun and important for children and adults alike, and the memories are guaranteed to last a lifetime.