Splash Area and Outdoor Ice Rink Come to Royal Oak Courtesy of Zoo

Zoo officials say new state-of-the-art Penguin Conservation Center could have an annual $3 million economic impact by drawing visitors year-round.

Exterior animation Courtesy: Detroit Zoological Society
Exterior animation Courtesy: Detroit Zoological Society
Royal Oak residents will finally have an outdoor splash area within the city's boundaries, but will have to wait until 2015 to use it.

Ron Kagan, Detroit Zoological Society executive director, announced Wednesday morning the development of The Polk Family Penguin Conservation Center, which will include an entry plaza with a water feature that will be a splash area in the summer and a skating rink during winter months. 

The $21 million project, which will be located near the zoo's entrance, should be completed by Thanksgiving 2015.

Last summer, a splash park was on Royal Oakers' wish list when asked what additional outdoor recreation facilities were most needed in the city, according to a public opinion survey conducted by the Public Affairs Research Laboratory (PARL).

(The splash area is shown at approximately 10 seconds in the video above.)

$3 million economic impact anually

The four-season habitat, with its four species of penguins, 4-D sensory elements, and splash area/ice rink, is expected to bring an additional 100,000 visitors per year to Royal Oak and have an estimated $3 million economic impact annually.

The new attraction is part of the zoo's agenda to "invent the next generation" for the park, Kagan said, noting the zoo's current penguinarium, which opened in 1968, was the first one ever.

"We feel it is very important to continue to deliver on the promise to this community, which rewarded us with a millage some five years ago, to continue to make a great zoo," Kagan said.



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