No tuxedos were required to fit in at the Yelp New Orleans uber-exclusive kick off to our Backstage Pass Series: A Penguin Playdate! This handful of Elites were able to come along with a lucky buddy or lil’ Yelper to go behind the scenes at the Audubon Aquarium of the Americas to learn, feed, watch, and play with the penguins! “What an amazing experience! The backstage pass hanging out with penguins was so much fun,” recalls Marielle S who brought her buddy Matthew R along for the adventure. “I felt like a real VIP.”
The day started with an informational session with penguin expert Darwin giving us the lowdown on the 40-plus penguins, both Black Footed and a few Rock Hoppers, who live in the lap of luxury at the Aquarium with a top-notch filtration system, restaurant-quality fish, and a great staff to keep their habitat clean. “He's exceptionally informative without being boring, which is a definite plus, especially with a couple of kiddos in the group,” points out Jennifer B who brought along her daughter Lia who just made the age limit!
Mini Yelpers Lia and Spencer were then privy to prepping breakfast for their penguin pals. After defrosting a nice bucket of breakfast fish, the group was led to a special room where two resident penguins, Marina and Garth, were waiting to be pet and teach us a thing or two about painting! “Two of the cutest little penguins waddled out into the carpeted hallway, all ‘hey, what's up’ like it was no big deal. And I may or may not have done the awful teenage ‘ohmahgahhhhhh!!!!’ and even a little ‘squee!’ to boot,” admits Kayce S of her inner child.
After the webbed toe-riffic masterpieces were completed, the Elites got to chill out while watching Penguins 3D in the Imax Theater and learn about King Penguins. Jennifer B gives it two-thumbs up. “The IMAX movie was kid-friendly but also not too sugar-coated. It's educational and adorable.”
The final act of the Penguin Pass was “the icing on the already superb cake” according to Kayce S. Elites went behind the glass to interact with the colony of penguins on their turf and see things from a penguin point of view! The inquisitive birds and Elites became fast friends despite a few curious nibbles here and there.
Though we wish we could’ve played all day, our own hunger caught up with us and was satiated by an amazing spread from Audubon Catering followed by admission to the rest of the Aquarium for that day.
Thank you so much to Katie S and Darwin as well as the Audubon Aquarium of the Americas for the Backstage Pass experience with their adorable penguin colony. Also, a big thank you goes out to Jason Van Haverbeke of V H Photographix for fighting the urge to cuddle a penguin and capturing some amazing shots of our experience. If you want to learn more about Yelp NOLA's Penguin playdate, check it out here and for more penguin pics, waddle over here!
Yelp New Orleans Community Manager