ROYAL OAK, Mich. (AP) – The Polk Penguin Conservation Center at the Detroit Zoo in Royal Oak has received the 2017 Exhibit Award from the Association of Zoos & Aquariums.

The zoo says the award is the top honor bestowed annually upon accredited institutions for excellence in exhibit design.

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The $31 million, 33,000-square-foot center opened in April 2016. It features a 326,000-gallon, 25-foot-deep aquatic area where visitors can view more than 80 penguins. It includes an underwater gallery with an acrylic window and two acrylic tunnels.

Detroit Zoological Society executive director Ron Kagan says zoo officials wanted to create an exhibit that allowed the penguins to thrive that was also thrilling for visitors.

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The environment encourages wild behavior like diving, nesting and rearing young.

 

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