They won't march. More likely the Lincoln Park Zoo's penguins will move by refrigerated truck or plane.
The zoo today announced plans to close down its existing penguin and seabird house and build a new exhibition space, meaning that the 22 penguins and 43 seabirds of various kinds it now has will be farmed out in the interim to other zoos and aquariums across the country.
When the moves begin depends in large measure on how soon the zoo can find other institutions willing to take the birds, said zoo spokeswoman Sharon Dewar.
But zoo officials said the best time to move these species is during the cooler winter months, and it's best to start the process sooner than later.
The birds likely won't be back for several years, Dewar said.
She said zoo officials right now are only at the beginning stages of conceptualizing a new exhibit habitat. After that, there's fundraising and construction to be done.
For the past 30 years, the birds have been domiciled at the zoo's Kovler Penguin-Seabird House.
"While the building is holding up, despite its age, we have significant concerns about how long some of the equipment that keeps the exhibits temperature-controlled will continue working appropriately," said Kevin Bell, the zoo's president and chief executive officer.
He said there was no specific closing date for the Kovler building, and it will remain open until the birds have been successfully placed elsewhere.
"While we prepare ourselves to ssay goodbye to the penguins for now, the zoo has every intention of including penguins into our plans for future exhibits," he said.
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