A crew of Magellanic penguins, a species native to Brazil that wouldn’t recognize an ice floe, recently made its debut in Long Beach, Calif.—and not as extras in a “Happy Feet” movie. The temperate-climate penguins instead star in the June Keyes Penguin Habitat, the first penguins in the Aquarium of the Pacific’s collection of more than 11,000 animals. The new penguin digs feature rocky areas, a beach, swimming pool, nesting areas and a sculptural fabric shade structure that provides solar protection for the birds and their fans and provides something of a “penguin resort.”
Duvall Design Inc., Rockland, Maine, developed tensioned shade structures to integrate into the new habitat’s concrete shell, walls, graphics and signage, working with architect Tom Bowman of the Bowman Design Group, also in Long Beach. (Installation was done by Loesch Contractors of Long Beach.) Made of Comtex® by Polyfab USA LLC, Manhattan Beach, Calif., the 2,000-square-foot shade structure forms an amoeba-like shape over the exhibit and is punctured with openings allowing sunlight to warm the beach and pool. Comtex is a superior fire-rated knitted HDPE shade fabric designed for large tensioned membrane structures with unsupported spans of up to 100 feet. The darker colors (17 in all) provide more than 93 percent UV A and UV B protection, keeping the denizens safe and comfortable.