Gulf World opens Penguin Encounter

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PANAMA CITY BEACH, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) -- Gulf World in Panama City Beach, Fla. has a new exhibit that may cause you to "flip out."

Guests can now get up close and personal with an endangered species: the African penguin.

The new Penguin Encounter at Gulf World allows guests to get in the water with the penguins and see some behaviors. They also get the chance to pet a penguin.

"We do a bunch of different things depending on the day. We want to make sure all of our guests walk away with the opportunity of having been able to touch a penguin. We like to offer different things. We do some free time where we learn all about the African Penguins. We get to watch them swim and we like to offer some different behaviors as well," said Kesley Fisher, lead animal care specialist at Gulf World.

There are currently three African penguins at Gulf World.

"They're all very different. They all have very different personalities. We have South who's a little bit younger and he likes to run around and have a lot of fun. We have 31-year-old Mary and she's really great, too," said Fisher.

There's also the crowd favorite, Fat Boy, who is 33 years old and loves hanging out on his rock in the exhibit.

Guests must pay $79 a person and sign up at the Gulf World welcome area in order to enjoy the Penguin Encounter. Participants must be at least 8 years old and the encounter lasts 20 minutes.

An all-day Gulf World admission ticket is included in your Penguin Encounter purchase.