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Get up close and personal with African penguins at Lincoln Park Zoo

Morgan Olsen
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Morgan Olsen
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If Chicago must wait for the cat café it deserves, at least we have penguins to hold us over. Following in the Shedd Aquarium's footsteps, Lincoln Park Zoo is now offering penguin encounters. Now through October 31, guests can get up close and personal with African penguins at the zoo's Robert and Mayari Pritzker Penguin Cove.

The encounter goes for $60 per person (a steal compared to Shedd's $75.95 fee) and allows visitors to learn more about what life is like for the endangered penguins through a guided experience. That registration fee also includes a framable photo of the encounter group, and individual photos are available for an additional fee (do it). Malott Family Penguin Encounters are offered to twice a day at 10am and 3pm.

It's important to note that you can't touch or feed the penguins, and because the aquatic birds are voluntary participants in the encounter, they can choose to walk away whenever they please. The whole thing lasts 45–60 minutes and includes time outside the exhibit, in a behind-the-scenes area and inside the Penguin Cove. 

To prepare yourself for the encounter, check out the zoo's incredibly detailed breakdown of who's who in the colony—including the Diva, the Main Squeeze, the Salty One and the Discerning Diner—and their new web series All My Penguins, which launched today. Queue the happy tears.

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