By Alex DeMetrick

BALTIMORE (WJZ) — A new home to match their formal attire. For penguins at the Maryland Zoo, work is about to get underway on a new exhibit space.

Alex DeMetrick reports–it’s designed with penguins and people in mind.

It’s not complaining, it’s just one of the ways African penguins stay in touch with each other. And for 47 years, they’ve been mingling on Rock Island at the Maryland Zoo in Baltimore.

That mingling has paid off.

“We are the most successful African penguin breeding facility in the country. We’ve hatched over 950 chicks since we’ve opened this facility,” said Jen Kottyan, Maryland Zoo.

Penguins hatched here have gone on to other zoos to breed–because this is an endangered species.

In 2000, along with the South African coast, an oil spill lowered already dwindling numbers. It launched the largest animal rescue effort in history, bringing Maryland Zoo staff to help.

Now captive breeding is about to expand with a new $10 million penguin exhibit.

“We’re going to double the nesting room size. So instead of 16 pair we’ll have 32,” Kottyan said.

The Rock Island and moat concept will be larger, with better access for visitors, including underwater views.

“There’s going to be wave action in it, so they can see the penguins porpoising,” said Kottyan.

While the new exhibit will be the penguins’ home here, in the future, there could be another home.

“Eventually, we would like to re-release either eggs or adults back into the wild,” Kottyan said.

Preliminary construction is already underway, with the new penguin exhibit due to open in the fall of 2014.