OTL Zoological Exhibit Construction at Polk Penguin Conservation Center Named 2017 Exhibit Award Winner

Posted in Awards, News, Press -

Themed Construction

On September 12 the Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA) awarded the Detroit Zoo’s Polk Penguin Conservation Center the 2017 Exhibit Award during their annual conference, held this year in Indianapolis. The award is the top honor bestowed annually upon accredited institutions for excellence in exhibit design.


“This award is the highest honor in exhibit design, and recognizes the Detroit Zoo for their dedication and expertise in designing a novel, immersive habitat that provides the best in animal care and welfare as well as a superior educational experience for visitors,”

said Dan Ashe, AZA president and CEO. (1.)

The Association of Zoos and Aquariums, through its Exhibit Award, recognizes excellence in the area of live animal display and exhibit design by an AZA Institution (US or International) or Related Facility member.

The penguin center opened its doors to the public in April 2016 and quickly led the Zoo to a record-breaking attendance that year.

At 33,000 square feet, the Polk Penguin Conservation Center is the largest penguin facility in the world.  It features more than 80 penguins of four different species. The exhibit looks like a large iceberg and is set at an angle to make it feel more natural for the flightless birds.

Designed by Jones & Jones and by Albert Kahn Associates, OTL’s goal was to build the habitat as close to the penguin’s subarctic environment as possible. Working closely with world-renowned polar ecologist and penguin expert Dr. Bill Fraser, director of the Polar Oceans Research Group, OTL’s scope of work includes construction of artificial rockwork, ice and glaciers in the penguin habitat and “dry-side” theming in the visitor galleries. OTL’s creation of artificial mussels, barnacles and kelp each help enhance the habitat’s realism.

The Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) is dedicated to the advancement of zoos and aquariums in the areas of conservation, education, science and recreation. AZA represents more than 230 institutions in the United States and overseas, which collectively draw more than 183 million visitors every year. “These institutions meet the highest standards in animal care and provide a fun, safe and educational family experience. In addition, they dedicate millions of dollars to support scientific research, conservation and education programs.” (2.)

If you would like to learn more about OTL’s expertise in building and designing natural habitats and aquariums, contact OTL by email info@otl-inc.com or by telephone at 714.637.4747.

  1. https://detroitzoo.org/press-release/polk-penguin-conservation-center-named-2017-exhibit-award-winner/
  2. http://www.aza.org/about-us



Learn More about the Polk Penguin Conservation Center and AZA:

OTL’s Zoological Habitats at the Polk Penguin Conservation Center are Riding a Media Wave
Detroit Zoo Penguin Habitats to Debut this Spring

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