The Maryland Zoo in Baltimore holds a monthly yoga class with the penguins.
As part of their commitment to getting animal lovers involved with their mission of conservation, the Maryland Zoo in Baltimore holds a monthly yoga class with the penguins. And if that sounds fun to you, you really need to take this class!
The class is open to all, whether you’re a beginner or experienced. The instructor – Katie, for the classes I attended – is attentive and clearly takes her job seriously. She’s quick to point out that because the class is made up of practitioners of all different levels, not everyone will be able to do everything. Therefore, if anything makes you feel uncomfortable or in pain, you can choose to skip it and go at your own pace. It’s a little note, but it makes a big difference for someone like me who is really not athletic at all! The yoga class itself is a great way to introduce newbies to the practice, while allowing more experienced practitioners a chance to practice in a new and different way.
In the warmer months, the class is held in the open space overlooking Penguin Coast, the large penguin enclosure which is full of water and lots of rocks. On an ordinary day, the open space allows visitors to observe the super-cute critters in their semi-natural habitat. But on yoga days, it’s a perfect spot to spread out your yoga mat and get some exercise. The enclosure is surrounded by glass walls allowing yogis to really get a chance to be up close and personal with the penguins (as well as a few very large and very loud pelicans).
In the winter months, the class takes place inside the Penguin Enclosure, which has large glass windows that allow you to see the penguins underwater as they swim and play. We were warned, though, that because the space is smaller and there are space constraints, winter classes fill up more quickly. If Penguin Yoga is on your bucket list, sign up quick!
Before the class (and throughout), you’re encouraged to take photos and selfies with the penguins – because honestly, how can you not? They’re adorable! The class always starts at 8:30 a.m. so that it’s over before the zoo opens to guests at 10 a.m. Because of the early start time, you’re able to see the early birds get their worms (so to speak!). They’re just waking up and starting their long day of splashing about. By the end of the class, they’re ready to roll and are playing and swimming like mad. In our class, a few had found their way over to the glass wall -- presumably to see why so many people were stretching in front of their home.
After the hour-long yoga session is through, you’re invited to take more pictures and then head into the education center. There you meet a penguin ambassador and get up close and personal with an actual penguin. You aren’t allowed to touch him because penguins are a bit skittish around humans. However, you are able to pose for pictures with him and ask the ambassador any penguin-related question you can think of. By this time, if you’ve had your fill of penguins (is that even a thing?!), the zoo is open for business, and you can head off to see a few more animals. The price of the ticket includes a pass to the zoo, which means an expedition to other animal habitats is free of charge.
The Maryland Zoo in Baltimore has always been great at designing events with a focus on conservation and fund-raising and that are actually fun for those that attend. Penguin Yoga is just another in a long line of hits from the fabulous people in the zoo’s development office. If you’re an animal-lover or a yoga-lover, or just someone that’s looking for something new and different to do on a beautiful morning, head over to the Maryland Zoo: the penguins are waiting for you!
COST: $20 – includes yoga class, meet-and-greet with a penguin and the penguin ambassador, and a day pass to the zoo.
WHAT TO BRING: If you have a yoga mat, bring it along. If you’re new to the practice, there’s no need to purchase a mat right away. A beach towel works fine.
TIME: Arrive at 8 a.m. for an 8:30 class start time (to get the best spot – closest to the penguins – try to arrive as close to 8 a.m. as possible.)
DATES: For more information and to purchase tickets for Yoga at the Zoo, visit the Maryland Zoo's website.
Have you done Yoga at the Zoo? We'd love to hear about your experience in the comments below!