The Houston Zoo in Texas celebrated the opening of a “first-of-its-kind exhibit” based on the Galapagos Islands in Ecuador with a VIP preview on Thursday, April 6.

The exhibit, which was scheduled to open to the public on Friday, includes Humboldt penguins, California sea lions, and Galapagos tortoises, the zoo said.

“No other place on our planet better exemplifies the wonders of the unique species, the delicate balance of ecosystems, or the pressing need for conservation more than the Galapagos Islands off the coast of Ecuador,” the Houston Zoo said in a press release. “As guests explore the first-of-its-kind exhibit, they become immersed in an environment evoking the archipelago’s unique landscapes and oceanic habitats and highlighting efforts to protect it for the future.”

Houston Zoo president and CEO Lee Ehmke, Mayor Sylvester Turner, and Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo delivered remarks during the opening ceremony on Thursday.

According to the zoo, the Consul General of Ecuador in Houston, Alba Coello de Barboza, “presented a recognition to the Houston Zoo and expressed gratitude for helping to raise awareness of the importance of wildlife conservation in the Galapagos Islands.”

Credit: Kevin Kendrick/Houston Zoo via Storyful