I’ve never seen such a curious bunch of penguins as the gentoos we saw at National Sea Life Centre in Birmingham!
Penguin Ice Adventure
The new little colony had not long ago arrived at their new Antarctic-themed enclosure, when we were invited to visit.
The 12 Gentoo penguins have been flown over 11,000 miles from Auckland, New Zealand. When we saw them they were still acclimatising, their lighting adjusted an hour a day to get them to UK daytime from their New Zealand internal clocks.
Yet even as they were just waking up they were immensely entertaining:
There was one youngster particularly interested in “playing” with the guests, by following toys and objects pressed against the glass. It was a challenge to drag Max away from him to let others “play” too.
We were half expecting him to start dancing to draw attention to the plight of his species back home*. But alas, he was bred in captivity, he has grown up with humans. So it was really us he was interested in, he seems to like humans and not be bored to death by us.
I thought the Penguin Ice Adventure has been put together with lots of thought.
There are multiple viewing platforms, most well-positioned for even the littlest toddler to get as good a view as the adults. An indoor temperature of a cool eight degrees Celsius and an interactive ice wall ensure visitors have a little taste of the Antarctic experience. Angelina, Max and Hugo loved leaving their hand prints on the ice wall!
My favourite part of the new penguin enclosure was at the end of whole maze of what is Sea Life Birmingham: 70,000 liter pool from it’s longest end and we could see the penguins swooping underwater through a domed window at the bottom of the pool. I have to admit I ducked a couple of times, as did others, as they swam towards us and did a rapid U-turn last minute.
Gentoo pengions are the fastest swimming penguins, so taking a snap was not the easiest.
My impression of Sea Life Birmingham
As we’d not long before been to Sea Life London, it was interesting to compare the two attraction and experience how different their layout was and yet the experience it left us with was one of pure enthusiasm for this place too.
Trail- Dive Log Book
The children got little Dive Log Books and in them a trail to follow. They had to find facts about different animals and use the stamping stations to collect all the embossed stamps in their little log books. At the end of the trail they got a little prize- a little keyring.
The trail had its advantages and disadvantages- it made the children move on from one area to the next- sometimes even too fast for my liking. It was great for fostering my little learner reader’s reading skills, giving her questions. And the log book has proved to be a great reminder of the day too, as the Littlins used them in their holiday scrapbooks.
The National Sea Life Centre entrance in Birmingham doesn’t fail to impress: you wonder up a winding path, past large and small aquariums, getting to an interactive rock pool before stepping inside the maze of aquariums.
The rock pool was very busy, the handler very patient in explaining about the different creatures. Little did we realise that a little over a week later, we’d be discovering those same creatures in rock pools of the North Sea on the North East coast of England! (See all the wonderful things we found in the wild Northumbrian rock pools).
The plethora of sea creatures was amazing- apparently over 2000 species!
I loved the sea horse,
the jelly fish under the every changing light,
the terrapins with tanks buldging out, so you could see them from all angles,
and the big tank with the tunnel through it. There was a talk going on as we got there. The carer explained about the nursing shark that appeared to like the vibrations caused by humans and choose to rest on top of the tunnel. (Seems even sharks have their fetishes.)
Throughout Sea Life there are information boards. Lots of focus on conservation, clear messages on what people can do to help protect different species. But the most important:
Do not litter!
Lots of litter takes forever to break down and often sea creatures mistake it for food, eat it and die. The classic is plastic bags being mistaken for jellyfish by lots of creatures, from turtles to birds.
Simple things like replacing your plastic bags with reusable bags. We have made a concerted effort to do this.
Have you been to an attraction recently that has changed your behaviour, made you want to do things differently?
Find out more about the National Sea Life Centre in Birmingham and what’s going on at their website.
If you book in advance there are some great savings to be made on tickets.
I’ve added their tweeting penguin to my twitter feed- Ginny the Gentoo- https://twitter.com/ginnygentoo. I hope she joins instagram and adds pictures too. 😉
Parking: we parked in the nearby multi-storey carpark, which is only couple of minutes walk away. It is a pay and display, disabled parking is free for those with a valid disabled badge.
* a reference to Happy Feet for those not immersed in animation films to the point we have endured.
Disclosure: we were invited to the press preview day of the Penguin Ice Adventure area and were lucky to be among the first to see the birds settling in