PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Penguins are officially returning to Roger Williams Park Zoo.

It’s been more than 15 years since penguins have lived in the capital city, according to Roger Williams Park Zoo Executive Director Stacey Johnson.

The zoo received $1.5 million in COVID relief funds from the capital city Thursday, which Johnson said will allow them to renovate an old exhibit for the penguins.

The money is coming from the “revenue recovery” line item of the American Rescue Plan Act budget approved earlier this year.

“The penguins left the zoo a decade ago, and we look forward to them returning and making a huge splash in Providence,” Johnson said.

Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza hopes the penguin exhibit will attract more visitors to the zoo, which struggled financially throughout the pandemic.

I think this represents the city’s continued investment in one of our state’s treasures,” Elorza said. “We know the zoo is the number one tourist attraction in the entire state.”

The penguins will eventually move into the zoo’s former seal exhibit.

The one seal that was left in the exhibit, named Bubba, was transferred to the Woods Hole Science Aquarium on Cape Cod back in September. The zoo chose to transfer Bubba so he would no longer be alone.

Johnson said while construction on the seal pool will begin soon, he’s unsure when the penguins will actually return.