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Before Blast-Off a Penguin Spaceship Must Be Built.
Pen
guins’ Rock Exhibit Construction a World of its Own.

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (February 12th, 2007) – Long before the first penguins are introduced to the Tennessee Valley, a specially designed world has to be created just for them.

This process began on paper at the Tennessee Aquarium more than one year ago when the idea to bring penguins to Chattanooga was first hatched. What species? How many? How big? The husbandry staff researched all of these questions extensively and followed that up with visits to other zoos and aquariums with penguin displays. After swimming through all of the issues and highlights, Aquarium staffers zeroed in on two species; the Gentoo and Macaroni.

“These birds are the BMW’s of the penguin world,” says director of husbandry and operations Jackson Andrews. “They are active penguins that are lively and fun to watch. These birds spend a lot of time in the water, which should really impress visitors with the way they “fly” underwater leaving a bubble trail behind.”

But being cold climate creatures means these birds have additional life support requirements that have to be met. So designing Penguins’ Rock meant building a home that’s unlike any other exhibit at the Tennessee Aquarium.

Every animal on exhibit at the Aquarium has extensive life support systems that can be seen on our daily behind the scenes tours. Each gallery is truly a self contained “world of its own.” But Penguins’ Rock will be like its own spaceship with the level of air and water quality raised to new heights.

Let’s consider the 18,000 gallons of water first. For happy Gentoos and Macaronis, that water needs to be kept at a chilly 45 degrees Fahrenheit. That means the tank and room needs to be heavily insulated. “Think of this exhibit like a huge refrigerator with a giant pool of chilly water inside, and you begin to understand how extensive the insulation has to be,” says Andrews who is overseeing the construction. The water will be filtered in many of the top-notch ways all of the exhibits are, including using ozone as a disinfectant.

Penguins and people like clean air to breathe. But if these birds could talk, they would also add its best when there’s a nip in the air. So the air inside Penguins’ Rock will begin as pre-filtered and cooled air from inside Ocean Journey. Then it will be chilled and filtered further inside the exhibit. Ultra-violet light technology will be added to the space aged gadgets used to keep these birds happy and healthy.

All of these elements are coming together quickly so Penguins’ Rock will be ready for grand opening during the first week of May. That’s when Gentoos and Macaronis will take one small waddle for visitors to the Tennessee Aquarium, and one giant leap for penguin-kind, right into their wavy pool of chilly water.
Chills of excitement are building as word gets out that penguins are coming to
Chattanooga.


Downloadable images available at http://www.tnaqua.org/Newsroom/Photo_library.asp

The Tennessee Aquarium inspires wonder and appreciation for the natural world. Admission is $17.95 per adult and $9.50 per child, ages 3-12. Each ticket purchased helps support Aquarium conservation programs. The IMAX® 3D Theater is next door to the Aquarium. Ticket prices are $7.95 per adult and $5.50 per child. Aquarium/IMAX combo tickets are $22.95 for adults and $13.50 for children. Advance tickets may be purchased online at www.tnaqua.org or by phone at 1-800-262-0695. The Aquarium, located on the banks of the Tennessee River in Chattanooga, is a non-profit organization. Open every day except Thanksgiving and Christmas, the Aquarium and IMAX are accessible to people with disabilities. Members enjoy unlimited visits and other benefits. Call 267-FISH to join.



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