Posts Tagged ‘penguin plunge’

Penguin Plunge Opens In Topkea

May 9, 2012

The Penguin Post has learned that after a much anticipated wait Topeka Zoo patrons will finally get their chance to dive into the world of penguins when the Penguin Plunge opens Thursday.  A grand opening ceremony is scheduled for 9:45 a.m. for the temporary exhibit of six African penguins in a replica of their South African beach habitat. The exhibit, which is housed in a building the presenting sponsor, KBS Constructors, erected specifically for it inside the Security Benefit Pavilion, is free with regular paid admission to the zoo, which will stay open until 8 p.m. Thursday to accommodate first-day visitors.

Special activities are planned for evening patrons. Zoo director Brendan Wiley said, “People are ready to go in and enjoy the experience,” which includes a 2,000-gallon pool with a glass wall through which people can watch the penguins “fly” beneath the water. The penguins are on loan from the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, Neb. Other aspects of the exhibit include educational stations that tell visitors about the 17 species of penguins worldwide and threats to their populations, such as overfishing, oil spills and harvesting of guano, which destroys nesting sites. Dispensing such information, Wiley said, helps the zoo fulfill its mission statement to “enrich the community through wildlife conservation and education.” Based on response from other places the Penguin Plunge has visited, the drawing power of the nearly 2-foot-tall birds is huge and could help the zoo toward an attendance goal it has set in its strategic plan. That document calls for roughly 175,000 guests to visit the zoo this year, an increase of 15 percent from 2011, and a step toward the goal of drawing more than 250,000 annual visits by the end of 2015. That is twice the current population of Topeka, said Wiley, or every four years a million opportunities to advance the zoo’s wildlife conservation and education efforts. Achieving that goal will mean continued maintenance of current exhibits, introduction of new ones and temporary ones, such as Penguin Plunge, which draws new visitors and rewards regular ones. “One of the things we’re focusing on is giving people more and more reasons to come back,” Wiley said. On Thursday, gates to the zoo will open, as usual, at 9 a.m. After opening comments at 9:45 a.m., Stephanie Tucker’s second-grade class at North Fairview Elementary School will be introduced. Those Seaman Unified School District 345 pupils raised nearly $1,000 in a Pennies for Penguins Coin Drive that helped generate the money needed to book the Penguin Plunge exhibit. Cair Paravel Latin School second-graders also will attend to perform a penguin song and dance before the 10:10 a.m. ribbon-cutting and the opening of Penguin Plunge, which is slated to be at the zoo until September. There will be a free penguin education program inside the exhibit at 11:30 a.m. Evening activities include a free “Make and Take” penguin craft project sponsored by Scrapbooks Etc. and given to the first 200 people entering the zoo after 5 p.m.

Penguin Plunge, a temporary exhibit of African penguins in a replica of their South African beach habitat, will open to the public Thursday at the Topeka Zoo.

Upcoming Penguin Plunge Not So Chilly

March 23, 2012

So what if it’s been in the 70’s and 80’s the past week.  It’s the spirit of the penguin plunge that counts and besides the water temperature is still freezing.  On this coming Saturday afternoon, approximately 200 “penguins” will be taking a plunge into 42-degree Crystal Lake in Ellington, Ct. The Ellington Penguin Plunge is one of 10 Plunges for Special Olympics Connecticut that are happening across the state this year. The penguins – including a group from Patch – will be jumping into the chilly water in bathing suits, team jerseys or creative costumes for a good cause. There will be incentive prizes and awards given for top fundraisers and best costume. Special Olympics Connecticut Regional Director Marc Mercadante said that plungers come from all walks of life and raise all amounts of money for the cause. Local sponsors include Maneely’s Banquet and Catering and Red Onion Restaurant. Event proceeds will support Special Olympics Connecticut’s year-round programs. Clear Channel Community Access Radio will be on site to provide music and announcements. Local sponsors include Maneely’s Banquet and Catering and Red Onion Restaurant. Event proceeds will support Special Olympics Connecticut’s year-round programs. Clear Channel Community Access Radio will be on site to provide music and announcements.


A Not So Frigid Penguin Plunge

March 12, 2012

When an announcer at the Sunday, March 11, Penguin Plunge told everyone the temperature of the lake, cheers erupted from the crowd. As of 11:42 p.m. Sunday, the temperature of Lake Quassapaug in Middlebury, Ct. was a whopping 64 degrees.  The Penguin Plungers may have cheered then, but once they took a dip in the lake, those cheers turned to shouts of “It’s so cold” or “What the heck?” from one of the youngest participants who took the plunge. More than $59,000 was raised during this year’s Penguin Plunge for Special Olympics of Connecticut. The event took place at Quassy Amusement Park . Sam Mason was dubbed the Emperor Penguin and was the first person to take the plunge. Mason’s goal was to raise $2,000 for the Special Olympics. Instead, he beat his goal and raised the highest amount raised by one person, at $2,523.80. According to Mason’s fundraising page on the Special Olympics of Connecticut website, this year’s Penguin Plunge is his fourth time jumping into Lake Quassy. Oxford Special Olympics raised more than $4,000 this year. The costumes were colorful at the Penguin Plunge, from the Spillane family of Watertown who dressed as The Addams Family to nurses dressed in scrubs to folks dressed as, you guessed it – penguins.

A couple of penguins take the plunge for a good cause.

Penguin Plunge Breaks Record

February 27, 2012

The Penguin Post has learned that participants in this year’s Penguin Plunge broke a fundraising record, raising more than $61,000 for Connecticut Special Olympics, organizers said Saturday. The Penguin Plunge is hosted by the Polish Falcons Nest No. 519 on the shore of Crystal Lake, where the 254 participants took the plunge for the cause Saturday. Last year, 235 penguins took the plunge and raised $50,000. “It’s not as bad as I thought it would be. I’d do it again,” said Gail Petras, Middletown animal control officer, who took the plunge with three other animal control officers, six Middletown police officers and friends and family. This year’s event was only the “second or third” where the lake was clear of ice and the beach clear of snow, according to Marc Mercadante, eastern regional director of the Special Oympics. “Last year we had mounds of snow and 13 inches of ice,” he said. “This is only our second or third event with open water.” Not very penguin-like if you ask us.

New Penguins Waddle To Canada

January 28, 2012

The Penguin Post has learned that the Calgary Zoo has announced its newest residents, penguins, have finally waddled to their new home and are just weeks away from making their public debut. The news comes as 46 penguins from five zoos, including facilities in the United States and Scotland, have all arrived at the Calgary Zoo. The new Penguin Plunge exhibit is due to open Feb. 17, in time for the Family Day holiday, said zoo spokeswoman Laurie Skene. “Everybody arrived safe and sound,” Skene said of the four species of penguins — gentoo, king, Humboldt and rockhopper — that will live in the display. Each penguin must undergo a 30-day quarantine before it can take up its new digs, Skene explained. The penguins were shipped to Calgary in refrigerated units with specially designed crates with ice and cold water. Zookeepers accompanied them on their journey, said Skene. Penguin Plunge will have indoor and outdoor homes for the black and white birds and feature pools where visitors can watch the penguins swim. The exhibit is one of the most technically complex at the zoo.

Penguins in Calgary await their grand opening


Gentoo Penguins Get Set To Fly

January 10, 2012

The Penguin Post has learned that in Edinburgh, Scotland some Gentoo penguins are preparing to leave their Scottish zoo home and fly halfway around the world to western Canada.  No, they’re not migrating.  These gentoo penguins are be carefully loaded into specially built kennels and, under the supervision of a Calgary Zoo boss, make their way across the ocean via cargo plane. In Calgary, they’ll eventually be joined by three other species of the waddling black and white birds from various zoos across the United States and Canada in their new Calgary Zoo digs: Penguin Plunge. Five years after it was first announced, the $24.5-million exhibit is now due to open in less than six weeks. Zoo officials are hoping everything will be in place to open Penguin Plunge to the public in time for the Family Day long weekend in mid-February.

The display is a scaled-back version of the massive Arctic Landing plan first envisioned in 2006. That $100-million proposal included bringing polar bears and beluga whales, and included a plan for an outdoor body of water the size of a football field. Zoo critics were quick to lambaste the Calgary facility over animal welfare concerns. In the end, it was the price tag – which more than doubled at the height of Calgary’s boom when planning was still in early stages – that sunk Arctic Landing.

Today, the zoo has high hopes for the penguins.

Penguin Plunge has indoor and outdoor homes for the birds where visitors can watch the penguins swim, slide and gobble up fish and squid. It features rocky outcroppings, splashing water fountains and a deep chilly pool.

Inside, light projected on the domed ceiling is programed to glow like Aurora Australis. Visitors enter into a walk-through exhibit with Plexiglass walls where the penguins swim right past. The pathway has a viewing area, too, where the birds can paddle by underneath. Up to 50 penguins from four species – gentoo, king, rockhopper and the endangered Humboldt – will take up residence in the new display. It’s one of the most technically complex exhibits at the zoo. After a string of deaths and animal mishaps prompted a fiery reproach of the Calgary collection in 2010, zoo officials say they’ve been thorough in their homework and are ready to welcome the lovable flightless birds to the city.”They’re obviously endearing animals,’ said zoo spokeswoman Laurie Skene. They’re charismatic animals but there’s a bigger story to tell.” That story – information about global warming and the imminent threats facing some species of penguins – will be told through an educational component tied to the display. The four penguin species were chosen in part because the Calgary facility can provide a healthy environment and proper care for them, said Skene. But another part of the decision is the conservation role the zoo hopes to embrace. Humboldts are particularly threatened, while Rockhoppers are beginning to face new challenges to survival, she said. “Modern zoos are becoming sort of the Noah’s Arks of keeping genetic diversity going for some species that are not now facing extinction in the wild,” said Skene. Animal welfare groups say they’re concerned the zoo is more focused on cashing in on penguins’ cute factor, buoyed by crowd-pleasing films such as Happy Feet (starring Emperor penguins) and Mr. Popper’s Penguins (featuring gentoo birds). Of the four species coming to Calgary, for example, only the King penguins spend long periods in cold weather, noted Barry Kent MacKay, Canadian representative of Born Free USA. He said he hoped the Calgary Zoo gave correct information about each species true habitat rather than a “cartoonish” version. Important issues, such as food shortages caused by overfishing or oil spills, should be addressed in the display, he contended. “I don’t like to see these beautiful creatures put into an incorrect environment in terms of what they really live like and then rationalize it as being a conservation or education effort,” said MacKay, a director of Zoocheck Canada, one of the zoo’s fiercest critics. “What they’re doing is putting these birds into a very contrived and cliched setting and trying to convince people it’s educational.”

Penguin Plunge

December 29, 2011

The Penguin Post has learned that once again this New Year’s Day, hundreds of penguins (the human type of penguin) are taking a dip into the very cold (40 degree) Atlantic ocean on the shores of Maryland for the 18th Annual Penguin Swim.  This penguin plunge is held to raise funds for the local not-for-profit Atlantic General Hospital.  Last year, 900+ penguins took that icy plunge and hundreds more watched them as they shivered through the dip.  A costume contest is also being held for the most creative (read: crazy) outfits. Don’t worry all you non-costumed Penguins, if you raise $25 or more, you’ll go home with an incentive prize.  All Penguins are to meet at the Princess Royale at 91st St. (Ocean City) at 1:00p.m. New Years Day.  Registration and incentive pick-up for the swim begins at 11:30a.m. New Years Day at the Princess Royale atrium. Pick up your prizes early and turn in your money with pre-registration. Pre-registration is available from 2p.m. -4p.m. the day before the event at Princess Royale.

Penguin Plunge to Benefit Special Olympics

February 17, 2010

For the 10th year, brave souls with warm hearts will heat up the chilly winter waters around Connecticut for a Special Olympics Connecticut 10th Annual Middletown Penguin Plunge on Saturday, Feb. 20, at the Polish Falcons Club, Nest 519 on Crystal Lake. All proceeds will benefit Special Olympics Connecticut.

Registration is at 10 a.m. with the plunge starting at noon. To register, join a team, make donations or volunteer please visit

For more information on how to support this event, contact Marc Mercadante at or call 860-887-1555, Ext 503.

N.H. Penguin Plunge Raises Over 571K for Special Olympics

February 9, 2010

HAMPTON — Against all human instinct, more than 1,000 Granite Staters took a dip in the Hampton Beach waters for the 11th Annual Penguin Plunge this past weekend.
The two-day event was held to benefit New Hampshire Special Olympics and as it has progressively grown each year, it has become the state chapter’s largest fund-raising event.
Red as a strawberry, Kaylee Huckins of Canterbury made her way to a heated tent to change out of wet clothes after her first Penguin Plunge.
“The experience lived up my expectations, and then some,” Huckins said.
Huckins came to the event with co-workers from her physical therapy office, and said the plunge not only was a nice way to help the Special Olympics, but it also was a great experience to have shared with her colleagues.
It also was Lisa Weatherbee of Weare’s first time taking plunge to honor her daughter, who is a Special Olympic athlete.
“So far this has been really fun just to watch people and to be part of the event,” said Weatherbee, minutes before she took the dip. “It’s pretty crazy. You think you’re going to die and you’re so pumped up about it.”
Sunday’s Penguin Plunge featured three “waves” of plungers to make sure everyone had enough space as they raced in and out of the water.
Hampton Fire Deputy Chief Steve Benotti said safety was a concern, which is why emergency fire department staff waded in the water wearing wet suits to keep an eye out for injuries.
Benotti said protecting the plungers not only was a job for the 16 Hampton Fire Department staff on duty Sunday, but also for 15 fire department volunteers throughout the state who came to support Special Olympics.
“Over the years we haven’t had any major injuries,” said Benotti. “The most common thing we see is twisted ankles or people who don’t realize they’re allergic to the cold conditions.”
A costume parade before the plunge, which featured men wearing Speedos, both men and women in bikini swimsuits, clown outfits, and plenty of others in decorative garb helped put the event into gear. The parade also gave spectators a chance to see the “Chilly Willies,” “Live Freeze or Die,” and a variety of other spirited teams.
Mark Dunn, an employee at Rockingham County House of Corrections, came to the event with fellow co-workers in orange prison uniforms. Participating in the larger “Gang Green and the Funky Fuzz” group, which was made up of state troopers, local police officers, and civilians, Dunn said the event was all about having fun and giving back.
“Anytime you can get this many people together for a positive cause, it’s worth it,” Dunn said. “I’m absolutely willing to sacrifice being cold for an hour for this.”
Bill Jones of Bedford, also known as “Captain Plunger,” is a board member of the New Hampshire Special Olympics and has participated in the Penguin Plunge all 11 years, raising a total of $54,000.
Jones gets his nickname from the helmet covered in plungers he wears every year, and says his role in the event is iconic. His daughter is a member of the Bedford Bobcats Special Olympic team, the group Jones plunged for.
Enjoying a couple of beers in a rented limo after his dive with friends, Jones said he is one of 17 who has participated in the event all 11 years.
“We look forward to the event every year because it’s just such a good group of people,” Jones said.
Missy Rodriguez of Canaan coaches the Upper Valley Hawks Special Olympics team, and said she took the plunge in Vermont the day before for the Vermont chapter of the organization.
“It’s cold, but basically it’s just a big party,” Rodriguez said.

Conn. Penguin Plunge Raises 46K

February 6, 2010

Superheroes, selectmen, students and men in drag were among dozens of area residents who braved single-digit air temperatures Saturday to participate in this year’s Penguin Plunge into Highland Lake.
The annual event, now in its seventh year, raises funds for Special Olympics. Plungers included Winsted, Ct. Selectman Glenn Albanesius, Litchfield First Selectman Leo Paul, numerous student organizations, and even Michael Marciano, this newspaper’s editor.
The nonprofit organization provides year-round sports training and athletic competition for children and adults with intellectual disabilities. The Connecticut chapter annually organizes more than 50 tournaments and competitions in 21 different sports.
This year’s 128 participants raised $46,000 on the day of the event, according to Sharon Pelkey, the development director for Special Olympics Connecticut’s Northwest Region.
Pelkey added that the nonprofit organization has continued to receive donations from the Highland plunge.

“The fundraising from the plunges raises a significant part of the monies we need to continue our training and athletic competitions,” Pelkey told The Journal Monday.

“More than half of our budget depends on successful plunges,” she said.

The Southbury-based Northwest Region of Special Olympics Connecticut holds three plunges each year, with the chapter adding a new plunge in Danbury on March 7 at Candlewood Lake Park.

The region’s next plunge is this Saturday, Feb. 6, at Lake Quassapaug in Middlebury.

For more information about the Special Olympics or upcoming plunges, visit