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“Penguins’ Rock” coming to the
Tennessee Aquarium’s Ocean Journey

Chattanooga, Tenn. (January 23, 2007) - A big chill will soon sweep through the Tennessee Aquarium when the latest addition opens in May of 2007. A group of penguins are going to waddle their way into Chattanooga and thrill Aquarium visitors with their lively antics.

The “Penguins’ Rock” exhibit will feature 2 very active species of cold climate penguins unique to this region. Gentoo and Macaroni penguins will move into Ocean Journey and take people to the world’s southern hemisphere and the sub-Antarctic islands surrounding the South Pole.

When visitors enter “Penguins’ Rock” they will find themselves immersed in an interactive gallery that will take them on a journey into the penguins’ world thousands of miles away.

Imagine watching these busy birds diving into an 18,000 gallon pool of 45 degree water, with waves rolling across the floor to ceiling windows. On land penguins are not very graceful, but you’ll soon understand why everyone says these birds really “fly” underwater. With flippers providing the speed, and their feet and tail providing steering and braking these animals will amaze everyone with their agility below the water line.

On land these penguins offer a wide range of interesting behaviors as well. The Tennessee Aquarium will have 20 birds on display, 5 pairs of Gentoo penguins and 5 pairs of Macaroni. Which means visitors will also get to view these penguins very selectively choosing the best pebbles for nesting materials and mating rituals. The expectation is at some time in the future these pairs will provide hours of fascination when eggs are laid, hatched and baby penguins are reared by their parents. This will make “Penguins’ Rock” not only a must see exhibit . . . it will be a “must see again and again” exhibit.

“Penguins’ Rock” will be a fun and educational experience in several other ways as well. Video displays will show guests penguins in their native habitats which surround Antarctica. A touch pool will allow visitors to feel the icy waters penguins call home. And visitors will also be able to compare themselves to life-sized models of three different penguin species. Lively graphics throughout the exhibit will also take you on a fact finding scavenger hunt of penguin points to ponder.

Penguins in the wild face several man-made challenges including habitat destruction, over-fishing, oil spills, and global warming. While Gentoo and Macaroni penguins are not endangered, the birds that will be on display at the Tennessee Aquarium will not be taken from the wild. These birds will be acquired from Sea World in San Antonio, Texas and transported to Chattanooga in a refrigerated truck.

Here are a few fast facts on the coolest critters coming to the Tennessee Aquarium:
Gentoo Penguin

Gentoo Penguins (Pygoscelis papua):
Pygoscelis genus includes Adelie, Chinstrap, and Gentoo penguins.
Standing height: 30 to 35 inches
Weight: 10 to 14 pounds

Gentoo penguins breed on many of the sub-Antarctic islands including the Falkland Islands, South Georgia and Kerguelen Islands. Smaller populations can be found on the South Shetland Islands and the Antarctic Peninsula. The total breeding population is estimated at 320,000 world-wide.

Gentoo penguins at the Tennessee Aquarium will have white markings around their eyes and over the top of the head. The name Gentoo refers to the inhabitants of India who wore cotton

caps that resemble the white band across this penguin’s head. Gentoo penguins have red eyes, orange feet, and their bills are reddish orange and tipped with black.

Gentoos lay two eggs of equal size, a process that is usually completed by late October. Incubation of the eggs takes about 34 days. After the two chicks are hatched, mom and dad put equal effort into raising both chicks. Gentoo pairs remain together for many years, but change nesting sites every season.

Macaroni Penguin

Macaroni Penguins (Eudyptes chrysolophus):
Eudyptes genus are crested penguins and include the Erect-crested, Rockhopper, and Macaroni species.
Standing height: 25 to 28 inches
Weight: 9 to 13 pounds

Macaroni penguins breed from parts of the Antarctic Peninsula through South Georgia Island and the South Shetland Islands. Breeding colonies tend to be very large and can number in the hundreds of thousands. The total breeding population world-wide is estimated at 9 million pairs.

Macaroni penguins will be easy to identify at the Tennessee Aquarium. Their distinctive yellow crest feathers will visually separate them from the Gentoo penguins on display. In fact the

Macaroni penguins get their name from this yellow plumage that resembled what young Englishmen wore on their hats in the eighteenth century. Macaroni penguins have eyes of red or varying shades of brown. Their feet are pinkish on top and black on the bottom. Their bills are orange.

Macaronis lay two eggs at a time but their first egg is considerably smaller in size than the second egg. The first egg takes longer to incubate and is almost never successful. If both eggs are lost, macaronis do not re-lay that season. Like gentoos, macaronis practice strong mate fidelity, but keep the same nesting sites each year.

Gentoo Penguin video                         Macaroni Penguin video
Download QuickTime Free

Downloadable images available at

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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 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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