PANAMA CITY BEACH, Fla. - Gulf World Marine Park takes care of more than just turtles...they have everything from dolphins to sea lions to penguins...yes penguins. While the black and white favorites have been at the Panama City Beach facility for years, they now have new digs.
Visitors at gulf world marine park are diving into a new interactive experience.
"It's a whole other level when they can get up close and personal, touch them, interact with them and get to know them one on one," said Gulf World Lead Animal Care Specialist Kelsey Fisher.
The park's three endangered African Penguins have a new habitat.
"We have South who is nine years old and we are very very proud of obviously South but also of Mary and Fat Boy who are both in their 30's so both of these guys have exceeded the life expectancy of an African Penguin which is usually late-teens early-twenties," said Fisher.
With the water temperature bearable, the habitat is people-friendly. Gulf World visitors Zach, Grayson, and Jack tried the interactive experience.
"It was nice to learn about all the penguins and stuff and i really like animals so it was enjoyable," said Grayson.
But Penguins living in Florida raises a lot of questions.
"These guys are African Penguins so they are actually native of South Africa which is similar to the climate we have here in Florida," said Fisher.
They are endgangered because humans over harvest a material called guano, which is used to make their nests. Humans have found it is also is an excellent fertilizer.
"So without the ability to build a proper nest, they aren't able to have chicks and populate their population," said Fisher.
Gulf World hopes the experience educates people about the endangered species. The 20 minute program is offered two times a day and includes access to the rest of the park.
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