More than 29,000 people voted, with Pearl receiving more than half the votes, according to PRNewswire. Pearl hatched on Sept. 12, the first chick hatched at SeaWorld San Diego since 2010.
SeaWorld San Diego is the only zoo in the Western Hemisphere where emperor penguins can be seen. Pearl was expected to be ready to join the park’s penguin colony in early 2024, at which point she will be visible to the general public.
Until then, in response to the public interest in her arrival, SeaWorld San Diego has created two new special tickets to enable a limited number of guests to see her now behind-the-scenes, with 10% of the proceeds going to support penguin conservation around the world.
— Ultimate Penguin On-Ice Experience and Viewing of Pearl: For the first time, guests will be invited to step onto the snow among six different penguin species, including the emperor penguins, at Penguin Encounter. They will learn about penguins from an aviculturist, who will share what it takes to care for these highly specialized animals. Guests will receive a rare viewing of Pearl. Tickets start at $199.
— Penguin Up Close Tour and Viewing of Pearl: Guests will go behind the scenes at Penguin Encounter for an up-close interaction with one of the penguins from Penguin Encounter. They will meet an aviculturist and learn what it takes to care for the animals. Guests will receive a rare viewing of Pearl.
Tickets start at $94. Tickets can be purchased at Penguin Encounter
“We have been amazed by the outpouring of excitement around Pearl’s hatching and cannot wait for guests to be able to see her and follow her journey as she matures,” said Eric Otjen, Head of Zoological Operations at SeaWorld San Diego. “This will be a once in a lifetime opportunity for most people given the rarity of the species, so these new limited time viewings are something extremely special.”
Penguin Encounter is home to a colony of 17 emperor penguins, as well as 300 other penguins including king, gentoo, macaroni, chinstrap, and Adélie penguins. The exhibit is a 25-degree, snow-filled habitat where the resident penguins can swim and interact within the colony. A colony of warm-weather Magellanic penguins, native to South America, live in a habitat outside the Penguin Encounter, which is also home to nearly 60 puffins and murres.
Emperor penguins are listed as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act due to the loss of Antarctic sea ice and rising sea levels caused by climate change.