Penguin exhibit at Florida's SeaWorld will get 10 tons of snow daily

Fri May 24, 2013 6:30pm EDT
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By Barbara Liston

ORLANDO, Florida (Reuters) - SeaWorld Orlando opened its "Antarctica: Empire of the Penguins" on Friday, a new attraction that will be coated with 10 tons of fresh snow each day.

To recreate a cold, dry climate suitable for penguins in hot, humid Florida, designers used airtight doors, humidifiers and air purifiers, SeaWorld said. Icicles and glittering ice crystals were created out of hand-blown Pyrex and glass.

Housed in a facility kept at 30 degrees, it is the coldest exhibit ever featured at Florida's major theme parks, which include Walt Disney World and Universal Orlando.

The attraction features almost 250 so-called "flippered flyers" from such penguin varieties as Gentoo, Adelie and Rockhopper and a ride that allows visitors to follow a penguin named Puck as he demonstrates what life is like for his species in Antarctica, according to SeaWorld.

Courting, nesting and molting behaviors of penguins are affected by light. SeaWorld used a computerized lighting system that alters the light in the habitat almost daily to recreate natural sunrise-to-sunset and seasonal light patterns from their natural habitat.

(Editing by Tom Brown)