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SAN DIEGO — Birch Aquarium shared plans this week to open a new exhibit featuring the smallest species of penguin.

Birch Aquarium at Scripps Institution of Oceanography said the Beyster Family Little Blue Penguins habitat will open in summer 2022 after a groundbreaking in late September.

A news release from the aquarium says the penguins, natives of Southern Australia, Tasmania, and New Zealand, are known for their unique blue color and big personalities despite coming in at less than 12 inches tall and 2-3 pounds. When the exhibit is complete, Birch Aquarium will be the only aquarium in the Western U.S. to house the sea birds.

Birch Aquarium will be closed Sept. 27-30 as crews break ground on the 2,900-square-foot exhibit. Named in honor of a $1 million donation from the Beyster family, the habitat will include rocky and sandy shore habitat and an 18,000-gallon pool where guests will observe the penguins socializing, interacting, and nest building.

Six Little Blue Penguins from Dallas World Aquarium are currently at an aviary built for them at Birch Aquarium. Ten additional birds are expected to arrive from Australian zoos ahead of the opening.