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Penguin Playhouse

Embrace your silly side and discover the playful personalities of endangered African penguins in this unique habitat.

What Will You Discover?

Pop into the playhouse to meet our quirky colony of penguins as they slip, slide, splash, and socialize. Be amazed by these extraordinary birds through our floor-to-ceiling viewing windows, or immerse yourself in their world using our crawl-through viewing tunnel!

African Penguin African Penguin

African Penguin

Although a bit clumsy on land, these birds are masterful swimmers, reaching speeds of 15 mph and depths of over 400 feet!

Conservation Status



Sharks and Fur Seals


Fish, squid, crustaceans


Southwestern coast of Africa from Namibia to South Africa

Did You Know?

While breeding pairs may have numbered millions in the early 20th century, less than 42,000 individuals remain today. Habitat loss, over-fishing, and coastal development are taking a toll on African penguin populations.

Atreyu Atreyu


Hailing from Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies, Atreyu was named after the protagonist in "The NeverEnding Story." Much like that character, Ripley's Atreyu would need a little help from a dragon like Falkor to fly! Penguins are members of the Spheniscidae family, an order of flightless birds that live in the southern hemisphere.


November 1, 2009

Gretyl Gretyl


Unlike her brother, Hansel, Gretyl is as sweet as sugar! She may be from the Great Smoky Mountains, but dreams of living in a gingerbread house with an endless supply of candied sardines. Always looking to make a new friend, keep an eye out for this cutie-pie as she's likely to swim up to you to say "Hello!"


March 27, 2019

Handsel Handsel


Handsel is a handful! Like he's prepping to hibernate bear-style in the Great Smoky Mountains, where he came from, he loves to eat! African penguins have a layer of blubber underneath their skin to keep them warm, but Handsel's habits have him packing on a little extra!


March 23, 2019

Marley Marley


Marley is a hopeless romantic from Zoo Knoxville, madly in love with his mate, Jello, whom he won over with a personal ad that touted he likes, "Pina Coladas, and getting caught in the rain." Marley and Jello now live in a perpetual honeymoon phase here, in Myrtle Beach.


April 24, 2019

Myrtle Myrtle


Myrtle is the queen bee of this penguin colony! She rocks a spitfire attitude, but keeps cool while relaxing in the shade of the sandy shores. Always ahead of trends, her black and white coat, known as countershading, functions as camouflage in the water from predators both above and below.


February 23, 2019

Norman Norman


Tenacious Norman always views the impossible as possible, nothing can hold him back! In the face of adversity, Stormin' Norman is resourceful and innovative, always thinking outside the flock. You can catch him waddling to the beat of his own drum, trying to prove that penguins really can fly!


June 13, 2017

Scarlette Scarlette


Scarlette's hue-inspired name comes from the path of skin above the African penguins' eyes that turns pink as the birds regulate their body temperature. Lette is very friendly, and you can often find her hanging out with Benny, going on walks, or chasing shoestrings and laser pointers.


March 23, 2018

Saba Saba


Saba came to us from Adventure Aquarium in Camden, New Jersey. An artist at heart, he makes beautiful art during our Penguin Painting Experience, using his feet to add pops of color to a blank canvas. When he isn't creating his next masterpiece, Saba likes to chase shadows and keys.


January 5, 2014

Carson Carson


Coming to us from Adventure Aquarium in Camden, New Jersey, Carson is technically a Jersey boy, but his singing won't be winning him any awards any time soon. Despite this, Carson has loyal fans, as he loves to play and interact with guests by following their hands and chasing shadows.


December 10, 2017

Chick Pea Chick Pea

Chick Pea

Chick Pea may be named after a vegetable, but he is as sweet as candy! He makes regular appearances during our Penguin Encounter experience. Eager to face the world with a smile, he is usually waiting by the door when it's time to enter the Penguin Playhouse.


April 24, 2009

Egerton Egerton


Egerton was the first penguin chick born at Ripley's Aquarium of Myrtle Beach! His parents are Maggie and Jimmy. A typical Libra, he has a balanced nature, both curious and cautious. During cleaning time, he prefers to watch from a distance and stand by his keepers.


October 7, 2020

Elton Elton


Elton is a fan of simply pleasures: food and back scratches. Originally from Maryland Zoo, he of course loves seafood, including herring, anchovies, and rainbow trout! Elton is always ready to make a new pal and is super friendly with guests and his keepers.


October 13, 2013

Guss Guss


Guss may be a penguin, but he's also a bit of a gym rat! This beefy boy loves swimming and playing tug-of-war. And although he comes to us from Maryland Zoo, Guss prefers to supplement his workouts with a protein-rich diet of herring, rather than crab cakes.


June 4, 2008

Haley Haley


Haley is a shy gal who came to us from Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies in Gatlinburg, Tennessee. She is a bit of a homebody and can often be found chilling with her bud, Atreyu. She is the mother of rambunctious Levi, which might explain why she's a little skittish.


September 12, 2010

Plyler Plyler


Plyler loves meeting new people, putting her best feathers forward with her outgoing personality. A full sibling to Egerton, this brave little extrovert is the yin to her reserved brother's yang! After welcoming Egerton to the colony in 2020. Plyler pushes the Aquarium toward our goal of "three chicks in three years" as part of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums' Species Survival Plan.


August 21, 2021

Jimmy Jimmy


You'll often find Jimmy climbing rocks or collecting small stones that he uses to decorate his home. Jimmy and his mate, Maggie, are the proud parents of Egerton, the first chick born at this Aquarium. They both came here from Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies.


September 29, 2007

Levi Levi


Levi is very extroverted compared to his shy mother, Haley. He is eager to get pets and is often first in line when it's time to enter the Penguin Playhouse. His confidence shines through and he can be identified by his iconic strut as he explores.


February 12, 2018

Memaw Memaw


Memaw is a flirty and feisty gal. She is friendly with many of the colony's male penguins, but it's Guss she comes home to and cuddles with at the end of the day. When it comes to feeding time, all bets are off, Memaw is notorious for stealing fish!


December 15, 2001

Maggie Maggie


Maggie and her mate, Jimmy, are the proud parents of Egerton, the first chick born at this Aquarium. They are also parents to Plyer, who was born in 2021. She is happy to let her son have the spotlight, preferring to hang out at home with Jimmy. The two lovebirds are originally from Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies in Tennessee.


June 23, 2009

Lucy Lucy


Lucy loves showing off her sporty side! Her big eyes make her an expert at spotting and snatching food from the water. When she’s not working on her catching skills, you can find her hanging out with her mate, Handsel.


August 15, 2013

McMuffin McMuffin


This Florida girl is the diva of the Penguin Playhouse! Muffin has mastered the art of smizing, and is always scoping out the other members of the colony to make sure that none of them are upstaging her. Although she can have an attitude at times, chowing down on her favorite snack, anchovies, usually puts her in a chipper mood!


February 25, 2021

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Swirling Pinstripe backdrop

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