By Robin Clutters

(CBS) – The Denver Zoo’s African penguins have a brand-new home. The Pinnacol African Penguin Point opened in September, replacing the old exhibit at Bird World. On CBSN Denver, we talked to Vertix Builders, who helped bring this new habitat to life.

(credit: CBS)

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“One of the first things guests will notice is the split-level viewing,” says Ted Laszlo, the Vice President of Vertix Builders. “There’s almost 40 feet of clear acrylic that provides both under and above-water viewing of the penguins. We also have a little wave ball feature that is hidden, off to the side of the exhibit. That helps keep the water in motion and make it a little more attractive for the penguins to jump in and it gives the guests something to do as well.”

Laszlo says creating this exhibit took a lot of collaboration. The team worked with the Denver Zoo, design partners, and even pool experts to understand what the penguins need.

(credit: CBS)

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“These are not cold weather penguins. These are African penguins, so we learned a lot about their behavior to create this exhibit,” says Laszlo. “They’re actually susceptible to very cold and very hot weather so we had to provide them adequate shade. We also created heated rocks to keep them warm in the winter. If you really pay attention in the exhibit, you’ll notice a lot of different types of surfaces that keep their feet healthy.”

Laszlo says the best part of creating this exhibit is getting to see visitors enjoying the space.

“I was out there and a two-year-old boy was pressed up against the glass and said, ‘I wish I could just go in there and give the penguin a hug.’ Being able to make those kids’ days is pretty fantastic.”

(credit: CBS)

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This isn’t Laszlo’s first foray into exhibit work. Vertix Builders was also behind the recently renovated Space Odyssey exhibit at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science.

Robin Clutters