Royal Oak (CBS Detroit) – Get a glimpse at the Polk Penguin Conservation Center before it opens to the public on April 18.

More than 80 penguins from four species are settling into their spacious new 33,000-square-foot digs at the penguin center.

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The $30-million conservation center sits on 2 acres at the front of the Zoo. The penguins’ sprawling residence boasts an open floor plan, soaring ceilings, expansive windows that bathe the space in natural light and a large swimming pool – very large.

Acrylic underwater tunnel (credit: Jennie Miller/Detroit Zoo)

Acrylic underwater tunnel (credit: Jennie Miller/Detroit Zoo)

Penguins are getting used to their new home at the Detroit Zoo's Polk Penguin Conservation Center on April 13, 2016 during a press preview. (credit: George Fox/CBS Detroit)

Penguins are getting used to their new home at the Detroit Zoo’s Polk Penguin Conservation Center on April 13, 2016 during a press preview. (credit: George Fox/CBS Detroit)

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A 326,000-gallon chilled aquatic area affords the penguins 10 times the amount of water in their former habitat, the Penguinarium – with plenty of room to zoom, swim and dive. An underwater gallery with a vast acrylic window and two acrylic tunnels provides spectacular views of the penguins above, around and below, and allows guests to get nose to beak with the charismatic birds.

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While the facility provides a remarkable experience for people, the penguin habitat itself is designed to ensure an optimal atmosphere for the welfare of the birds. Their air temperature is set to a near-freezing 37 degrees Fahrenheit and the water at 40 degrees Fahrenheit, and the environment is intended to encourage wild behavior, from diving and porpoising to nesting and rearing young. Since the march to their new home last week, the penguins have been experiencing new features at every turn, from rocks for climbing to lapping waves, falling snow and plenty of ice – all planned to simulate conditions found in their native habitat.

“The penguins are adapting well to their new home and appear to be discovering their many new opportunities for deep diving, porpoising and even sliding in snow,” said Ron Kagan, executive director and CEO of the Detroit Zoological Society (DZS). “We have created a penguin environment centered on conservation that offers an extraordinary and authentic experience for our guests.”

The design of the Polk Penguin Conservation Center was inspired by the harsh but majestic ice world of Antarctica, which included the design team traveling to the southernmost continent and observing tens of thousands of penguins in the wild. The building’s exterior resembles a towering tabular iceberg with a crevasse and waterfall. Polar explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton’s legendary Antarctic expedition and epic crossing of the Drake Passage influenced an immersive entry experience where guests descend a series of ramps – as if aboard Shackleton’s ship, the Endurance – surrounded by 4-D effects, including blasts of polar air and sea mist. A unique video and sound feature called projection mapping depicts iceberg calving – one of nature’s most dramatic visual and aural spectacles where icebergs split and send massive cascades of ice crashing into the sea.

Before exiting the building, guests can find gifts, toys, T-shirts, books, coffee mugs and other penguin-themed items at the Drake Passage Gift Shop.

An outdoor plaza sits at the base of a 25-foot waterfall cascading from the building’s roof – simulating a cracking and melting iceberg – and includes a large window that provides a vista into the penguins’ habitat. The plaza features a 1,400-square-foot fountain with 32 jets over an outline of Antarctica and surrounding oceans. The fountain area will be converted into an 1,100-square-foot skating rink in the winter months.

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The Polk Penguin Conservation Center is free with Detroit Zoo admission; however, to ensure an enjoyable experience for all guests, timed-entry passes are required – available on a first-come, first-served basis at admissions. While they wait to check out the penguins’ new home, guests can check out an exhibition of historical photographs from Shackleton’s Antarctic expedition at the Wildlife Interpretive Gallery.