Essex County News

African Penguin Exhibit Construction is Underway Turtle Back Zoo

Essex County Executive Joseph N. DiVincenzo, Jr. (center) announces that construction is underway for the new Shores of Africa Penguin Exhibit at the Essex County Turtle Back Zoo Credits: Essex County

WEST ORANGE, NJ – Construction is underway once again at the Essex County Turtle Back Zoo for the new “Shores of Africa Penguin” Exhibit, where African penguins will join the giraffes, lions and hyenas to bring all of Turtle Back's animals from the largest continent into the same area.

According to Essex County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo, the penguins have always been among the most popular animals at the zoo. 

"We believe that bringing more penguins to Turtle Back will make the exhibit even more exciting and provide a more dynamic experience for our visitors," said DiVincenzo. "Shores of Africa will provide us with the space we need. In addition, it will enable us to expand our educational opportunities and conservation initiatives.”

Sign Up for E-News

DiVincenzo is pictured above holding an artist's rendering of the exhibit alongside Essex County Parks Foundation President Lou LaSalle, Essex County Deputy Chief of Staff William Payne, Mike Piga from French and Parrellos, Freeholder Len Luciano, NJ State Senator and Essex County Deputy Chief of Staff Teresa Ruiz, Assemblywoman Eliana Pintor Marin, Freeholder Patricia Sebold, Turtle Back Zoo Director Michael Kerr and Turtle Back Zoo Supervisor Bill Robles, who is holding Andy, one of the penguins at the zoo.

"One of the great things about Turtle Back Zoo is our residents can get in the car and take a short drive to get here,” said Teresa Ruiz, NJ senator and Deputy Chief of Staff Teresa Ruiz. “The zoo and this complex were created for our children and they will benefit from the experiences they have here.”

Sebold added that the Turtle Back Zoo and the recreation complex has become a destination for people from all over New Jersey thanks to the vision of our County Executive. She said the African Adventure has been a huge hit with the public and that bringing the penguins to this area will make it a bigger attraction.

"If not for the leadership of the County Executive and support from the Board of Freeholders, Turtle Back Zoo would not be where it is today," said LaSalle.

"On behalf of our 14,000 members and board of directors, we congratulate the Executive on the concept for the penguin exhibit,” said Adam Kerins, executive director of the Zoological Society of New Jersey. “We like the Zoo's movement to engage in more conservation efforts and are happy to support this facility.”

According to the county executive, a 4,200-square-foot building is being constructed to house the indoor penguin exhibit. The interior will be designed with fabricated rock walls and a 30,000-gallon saltwater pool to simulate the penguins' natural habitat off the southern African coast.

The rock walls will have nest-burrows to encourage breeding among the penguins. The size of the exhibit will enable Turtle Back to increase the penguin colony from 12 to 30. It will be designed with a synthetic thatched roof and be landscaped so it is integrated into the African Adventure section.

A new walkway connecting the Shores of Africa exhibit with the lion and hyena exhibit to the north and the Giraffe House to the south will be created. Visitors will be able to view the penguins from three different levels inside the building: A regular view from ground level, a below grade area to see the penguins swim underwater and an elevated area to watch the penguins from above.

Glass walls in front of the exhibit space will ensure there are no obstructions. Other animal species also will be introduced into the exhibit, including sharks and small monkeys.

"Relocating our African Penguin colony to our African Adventure path is a fitting move, not only will our penguins benefit from the new exhibit, our guests will too,” said Kerr. “We have added nest-burrows for our penguins to raise chicks in, fitted with cameras for our keepers to monitor the chicks. Our guests will have the opportunity to see these birds behave just like would in the wild.”

With underwater viewing, Kerr said guests can watch penguins swim amongst Zebra sharks and even hunt for their own fish. With plans to add even more birds to our flock, he added that the zoo will now have an exhibit and colony that will sustain itself for years to come.

The Penguin Coast exhibit, the penguins' current home across from the Savanna Café, was upgraded in 2008. According to the zoo, it is not large enough to accommodate a larger penguin colony and will be repurposed to feature flamingos.

French and Parrello from Wall received a $235,000 contract to design the Shores of Africa exhibit. Terminal Construction from Wood-Ridge was awarded a publicly bid contract for $5,989,996 to build the attraction.

The Essex County Department of Public Works (DPW) is monitoring the program to ensure that delays are avoided. The exhibit is being funded with grants from the Essex County Recreation and Open Space Trust Fund, the NJ Green Acres program and the Zoological Society of New Jersey and with funds from the Essex County Capital Budget.

Work on this project began in July and is set to be completed by the spring of 2018.

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News


TAPinto Bloomfield's Kevin Knight among Nutley Jaycee's Distinguished Service Honorees

March 19, 2018

NUTLEY, NJ - The Nutley Jaycees wil hold the 47th annual Distinguished Service Awards Wednesday evening, April 12 at the Valley Regency in Clifton.

This year's awardees are:

Outstanding Young Man

Michael J. Nevin

Civic Affairs

Janet Canonico


Robyn Powell


Kevin Knight

Public Health and  Safety

Thomas Nicolette

The ...

Happy St. Patrick's Day from is a network of more than 70 franchised online local newspapers in New Jersey and New York with more than 7M readers during the last year. We provide original local news reporting 24/7 for the communities we serve, as well as a full-service events calendar, real estate listings, business directory, classifieds, and much, much more. Readers can receive FREE enews at ...

Upcoming Events


Mon, March 19, 7:00 PM

Hospital Auditorium, Glen Ridge

Tour of the Birthing Center

Health & Wellness


Tue, March 20, 7:00 PM

Montclair Public Library, Montclair

Martin Luther King, Newark, and the Cool Spring ...

Education Law & Justice Other


Wed, March 21, 6:00 PM

Montclair Public Library, Montclair

Understanding Liver Disease

Education Health & Wellness


Wed, March 21, 7:00 PM

Hospital Conference Room 2 (Ground Floor), Glen Ridge

Becoming a Parent

Health & Wellness


Thu, March 22, 6:00 PM

Mountainside Medical Center, Glen Ridge

Power Up your Grocery Cart

Food & Drink Health & Wellness


Thu, March 22, 7:00 PM

Cedar Grove High School, Cedar Grove

Orange Invitational Volleyball Tournament ...

Education Food & Drink Giving Back Other Sports

Bloomfield Police Blotter February 19 - 25, 2018

March 2, 2018

BLOOMFIELD, NJ - The following police blotter has been issued by Lt. Anthony Sisco of the Bloomfield Police Department.


2/19/18 – Officers dispatched to Modells (224 Bloomfield Ave) on a report of shoplifting. Complainant (Modells employee) observed an Unknown Black Male suspect place (2) “Nike” hooded sweatshirts and batting gloves (total value ...

Student-Led March for Our Lives to Take Place in Montclair, Mar. 24

March 19, 2018

MONTCLAIR, NJ - Montclair and surrounding-area students are planning to participate in a movement called 'March for Our Lives' taking place on Saturday, March 24. Part of a nationwide movement to pass common-sense gun legislation in America, the students plan on gathering in several places across the state of New Jersey, including Montclair, Maplewood, Paterson, Union and ...

Man Dies from South Orange House Fire on Sunday

SOUTH ORANGE, NJ - A man has died from a house fire on Warwick Avenue in South Orange on Sunday afternoon, stated Thomas Fennelly, Essex County Chief Assistant Prosecutor.

The fire, which began about 2 p.m. was contained by about 5 p.m., and required mutual aid from fire departments in neighboring towns, according to firefighters at the scene.

Technology ‘Hub’ proposed for Hub City’s downtown, covering 12 acres

March 19, 2018

NEW BRUNSWICK – State and city officials on Monday unveiled plans for a “hub” for research in the fields of technology and health care services to stretch over 12 acres.

Gov. Phil Murphy, speaking at a meeting at Rutgers University, said the "Innovation and Technology Hub,” which is in the planning stages, would include construction of 2 million to 4 million ...

Former Rumson High School Student, 19, Arrested Possessing MSR-15 Patrol Rifle, Silencer, Explosive Chemicals

MONMOUTH, N.J. -  A former Rumson high school student was arrested in Ithaca New York. Maximilien R. Reynolds, 19, was charged with Possession of an Unregistered Destructive Device/Silencer, False Statement in Acquisition of a Firearm and False Statement in Required Firearm Record. Specifically, he is alleged to have possessed an MSR-15 Patrol Rifle, 300 rounds ...

Avon Loses Its Last ‘Grand’ Hotel to the Claw of an Excavator

March 18, 2018

AVON-BY-THE-SEA, NJ — In less than two days, an Avon-by-the-Sea landmark that stood for 130 years was reduced to a huge pile of rubble. The Norwood Inn no longer stands on the corner of Norwood and Second Avenues — the last of the stately hotels that once graced the streets of Avon.

As onlookers gathered around the demolition site on March 15 and March 16, an excavator clawed its ...

#Enough Nutley High School Walkout: By Students, for Students

March 16, 2018

To the Editor:

Disgusted by federal inaction, devastated by the Parkland shooting, and determined to see real change, students around the country walked out of class at 10 a.m. on March 14th, one month after the tragedy at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

Students of Nutley High School also protested, in solidarity with students from over 3000 other schools ...

Parkland What...Parkland Where...Parkland Wow!

Thinking of the 17 angels that lost their lives lost one month ago. Thinking of the injured that are still fighting to heal. Thinking of the #MSDSTRONGstudents, teachers and staff that had their innocence taken from them. Thinking of a community that draws strength from each other as we all try to move forward after the tragic events of Feb 14.

Parkland what...... Parkland where.......

Pro Staff Institute announces partnership with Uber Health

NUTLEY, NJ - Pro Staff Institute is proud to announce their participation in Uber Health, a new transportation program designed to provide transportation to patients. Pro Staff Institute is the first physical therapy center in the nation to leverage Uber Health, and joins over other 100 health care organizations in the U.S., including hospitals, clinics, rehab centers and senior care ...

The Negative Effects Of Prolonged Sitting And Workplace Tips From Pro Staff Physical Therapy

In recent years, media outlets have described sitting as the new smoking. This may seem like a stretch, but once you break that statement down it carries some truth. Cigarettes were not thought to be the cause of lung cancer and other serious diseases until the 1950s. Like the cigarette industry in the 1920s, the effects of prolonged sitting throughout the workday has largely been ignored and ...

Bloomfield Bengals Athletic Update February 19, 2018

Indoor track competed at the Group IV Championships and two athletes advanced to the Meet of Champions. Kaela Edwards broke her own school record in the 55-meter hurdles finishing second. La’Shan White finished an impressive 5th in the 400-meter run outrunning his number 10 seed.  

 Wrestling competed at the District 9 Championship. Two Bengals advanced to the Region ...

Bloomfield Bengals Athletic Update February 12, 2018

 Boys Basketball faced Barringer in a round of 16 match up in the ECT and won by a decisive score of 67-40. Junior Mike Ramos joined the 1000 point club for his career with a 29 point effort.

 Bowling added Essex County Championships for both the Boys and Girls to their already impressive resumes. The Boys County title is their first since the 2002-03 season while the Girls ...

The Jaffe Briefing - March 19, 2018


TRENTON - New Jersey, one of the only employers who pays its workers for unused sick time, and then appears mystified when it struggles to balance its budget, may finally be capping sick-leave payouts.  The proposal, obviously unpopular with labor unions, has been discussed before, but not with traction. It is back in the mix again, to cap payouts ...

Ten Ways to Be Productive on a Snow Day

March 7, 2018

Another Nor’Easter has smacked us in the face today.  After so many of us lost power for what seemed to be an eternity, it’s a good time to make up for lost productivity and work on the famous Stephen Covey Quadrant 2 Activities.  What are they you may ask?  Those are the activities that are Important, yet not urgent (well some of them can be).  In other ...

In Cold Blood by Truman Capote

In Cold Blood by Truman Capote (Random House, 1965)


In Cold Blood is, quite simply, the grand-daddy of true crime writing, dubbed by Capote, himself, as the first non-fiction novel (although Norman Mailer argued the point when he published The Executioner's Song in 1979.) The conditions under which I read In Cold Blood for the first time were pretty weird, which was another ...

Ian Hockley Visits New Jersey to Introduce Program to Empower Youth

This week I am taking a departure from book reviewing to share an important program that has been introduced to New Jersey this week by Mr. Ian Hockley, founder of the Dylan's Wings of Change Foundation. On December 14, 2012, Hockley's five year old son, an autistic child named Dylan, was gunned down in his classroom in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting. Dylan, a shy and adorable ...

Lilli DeJong by Janet Benton

Lilli De Jong by Janet Benton (Doubleday, 2017)


“It's said that every woman's painful labor is God's punishment. Eve ate an apple, and God pours wrath on every mother. So the Bible tells it.” (p.320)

The story of Eve and the serpent in the Garden of Eden, which is the Biblical explanation for the extreme pains of childbirth, casts women in the role of ...

Yogi Berra Museum & Learning Center Presents:Ron Guidry Book Signing, Apr. 3

March 19, 2018

Ron Guidry, known as "Gator" and "Louisiana Lightning" to his teammates, quickly rose in 1977 to become the ace of the Yankees' stellar pitching staff, helping the team regarded as one of the most famous and controversial in Yankees history to win two World Series championships. 

Join us on Tuesday, April 3 for a signing of Guidry's new ...

4th Wall Announces Auditions for FUN HOME

4th Wall Theatre, a non-union NJ theatre company, will hold open auditions for all roles in the final production of its 2017-18 season, FUN HOME, with music by Jeanine Tesori, book and lyrics by Lisa Kron, and based on the graphic novel by Alison Bechdel. 4th Wall’s production will be directed by Kate Swan with music direction by Markus Grae-Hauck. The show will be presented at ...

Junior League of Montclair-Newark, Inc 50/50 Raffle

MONTCLAIR, NJ - The Junior League of Montclair-Newark, Inc. (JLMN) has provided support and service to women and children in Bloomfield, The Caldwells, Cedar Grove, Essex Fells, Glen Ridge, Irvington, Montclair, Newark and Verona for more than 95 years.

Our trained, enthusiastic members are committed to promoting volunteerism, developing the potential of women, and improving the community ...

Junior Summer Workshops To Be Held at Lord Stirling Stables

BASKING RIDGE, N.J. — Somerset County Park Commission Lord Stirling Stable has announced the dates for the Junior Summer Workshops, which are themed five-day programs focusing on riding and horse care. The Stable is located at 256 South Maple Avenue in Basking Ridge.

Junior riders may enroll in Summer Workshops beginning Saturday, March 17, 2018 at ...


- Mar 14, 2018
Past Deputy Grand Marshall of St. Patrick’s Day Parade, Merchant Marine veteran James J.
Read more
- Feb 28, 2018
John Genitempo, The “Silver Fox”, of Nutley, passed away on Wednesday February 28, 2018 ...
Read more