LOCATION: The Florida Aquarium. Tampa, FL.
This post is part of my Orlando Birthday Trip Series.
I’ve always had a soft spot for penguins and I knew of two places along the East Coast that allowed an encounter with them. The Pittsburgh National Aviary has a short penguin encounter and the Florida Aquarium offers one as well. Since I was going to Tampa for the aquarium dive I decided it was the perfect opportunity to have my penguin encounter as well.
The staff took about 10 of us into a back room that had a penguin habitat with about 6 or 7 penguins. They gave us a brief 5 minutes of penguin facts, and then it was time to play. We all sat on a bench while the guide brought one of the penguins around for us to pet.
After we each got to pet the little guy, she let him run loose. Immediate the penguin ran to Troy. When penguins are excited and happy, they make a loud purring sound and shake their entire body. This would be like a dog wagging its tail. The penguin ran up to Troy and he reached down to scratch its belly. The penguin started shaking and purring all over the place and would not leave Troy alone. It was super cute to say the least.
Next, the guide put the penguin in a little pool basin for him to swim in. The penguin would swim in circles and enjoyed splashing people as they came up to him. We were able to get lots of petting time in while he was in the pool.
I was extremely surprised at how much time we got with the penguins. I was expecting something short like when she brought the penguin around to all of us and then the rest of the time would be a lecture on their information. The Florida Aquarium had a great program if being up close with penguin is something you want to do. If I venture to Tampa again, I definitely want to do this another time.
* Thank you Troy for accompanying me on this adventure.
WOULD I DO IT AGAIN?: In a second! I love penguins and I absolutely loved playing with them
HOW TO DO THIS: The Florida Aquarium offers a backstage pass to have a Penguin encounter. It is 30 minutes for $30 and well worth it. You actually get a good amount of quality time with the penguins and not just a few minutes. http://www.flaquarium.org/explore-the-aquarium/things-to-do/penguins-backstage-pass.aspx
Pittsburgh National Aviary also allows a penguin encounter http://www.aviary.org/