Thursday, September 24, 2009

Come On In, The Water's Fine

The baby macaroni penguin is now getting some daily pool time. Each day, Amy Graves or Loribeth Aldrich let the little bird out of his "playpen" for some supervised activity. The chick still has to learn how to interact with the other penguins, something all baby penguins must do in the wild or on exhibit. Check out the fun in this video and then come watch him playing at the Tennessee Aquarium.

Monday, September 21, 2009

A Blizzard of Feathers Inside Penguins' Rock

The other day Amy Graves, Loribeth Aldrich and the penguin volunteers had their hands full. There are feathers all over the place inside Penguins' Rock. Welcome to molting season! The gentoo and macaronis are currently all stages of molting right now. One Gentoo, “Blue” is completely finished molting, and has jumped back in the water for swimming. The tail feathers are slower to grow in, so he doesn’t have much of a tail right now, but the other feathers are nice and sleek. There are eight Macaronis molting, and they are grumpy right now. It’s not uncommon to see more aggression between birds during this time. “Merlin” is the only Macaroni who hasn’t even fattened up to molt yet, though he should soon, and of course the new chick will not molt this season. Among the Gentoos, “Nipper” and “Bug” are fattening and just about ready to molt, and “Biscuit” is in the midst of it. The Macaroni chick is still gradually being introduced to the water and the colony, but still has not gone for his/her first swim yet.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Learning and Fun Ahead! Home School Day 9/28

Our Home School Day this fall will be on Monday, September 28, 2009. Mark your calendars. We are offering great discounts for admission to the Tennessee Aquarium, the IMAX Theater, and the gift shops in each facility (See special rates below). Free animal programs will be offered in the auditorium from 11 am to 3 pm and special behind-the-scenes tours will be offered just for that day. So don’t miss this special day of fellowship with other home school students and their families.

Learn more here:

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Baby Mac Somewhat Reluctant to Swim

The baby macaroni penguin is almost ready to go swimming for the first time, but it seems a little reluctant to play in the water. “When we take the chick into the back-up areas with the shallow pools, it is distracted and doesn’t seem to be interested in the water,” says senior aviculturist Amy Graves. Graves and the other penguin keepers have been letting this little one mingle with the other birds for short periods off and on throughout the day recently. This gives the macaroni chick a chance to get used to interacting with the other penguins and allows the other birds time to safely satisfy their curiosity. “We still have to watch the chick because the other penguins could get a bit excited and peck and squabble a bit,” Graves said. “But that’s part of life in the colony for every new penguin. Even though there’s no hierarchy, there are still some social rules that each bird has to learn. So we’re giving the chick some opportunities to learn those rules a little bit at a time.”

Gentoos Zeus and Pebbles have led keepers on an agonizing route with their chick similar to gentoos Bug and Big T. At first it appeared as though Zeus and Pebbles might turn out to be exceptional parents like macaronis Paulie and Chaos. However, within a few days of hatching, the new gentoo chick was not being fed properly by the gentoo parents. Staff members carefully monitored the situation, stepping in to feed and hydrate the chick when it was necessary. The baby was always returned to the parents after being cared for and sometimes the parents would suddenly start doing everything properly again. “It’s important to give the parents every opportunity to raise their own chick in order to help them become better parents in the future,” explained Kevin Calhoon, the Aquarium’s assistant curator of forests. “Sometimes they would return to feeding the chick normally, other times the feedings were lackluster.” As time went on, the feedings became more sporadic as Zeus and Pebbles seemed to lose some interest in the growing chick. “Once the chick cannot fit completely under the parents, the gentoos tend to not feed as much. This happened with Bug and Big T, and it happened with Zeus and Pebbles. Similar behavior has been reported to us by some of the other penguin experts we consulted with,” Calhoon said. This chick’s health was a roller-coaster. On some days Amy would report a nice weight gain, on other days, she would share her growing concern because of a setback. In spite of everyone’s best efforts, consulting with leading penguin experts and round the clock feedings, dramatic improvement was often followed by weight loss. Unfortunately we lost the battle and the chick died Friday afternoon. We don’t know at this time what ultimately led to this chick’s death, but observations from the preliminary examination will be combined with results of pending lab analysis to determine the cause of death.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Meet Howard and Michelle Hall Sept. 17

Howard and Michelle Hall live and dive on the edge.

While making “Under the Sea 3D,” their team plunged down 155 feet underwater, a record depth for filming with the IMAX 3D camera, to film the 90-tentacled chambered nautilus. Howard Hall also broke the record for time logged underwater in a single dive. He and his team spent six hours trying to film the lethal, reef stonefish. Hall says this deadly member of the Scorpionfish family has, “the ugliest face you’ve ever seen.”

Meet world-renowned directors/producers Howard and Michelle Hall at the Tennessee Aquarium as they describe many other exciting face-to-face adventures
This Thursday, September 17, 2009 from 6:00 to 9:30 pm.

It’s dinner, drinks and a movie with an attitude.
One price includes: Tickets to “Under the Sea 3D” at IMAX, a special presentation by the Halls at the Aquarium and cocktail reception with heavy hors d’oeuvres. Proceeds support Tennessee Aquarium conservation programs.
All AgesLimited to 200Adult: $40/Member; $50/Non-MemberChild: $20/Member; $25/Non-Member (ages 3-12)
Dive in here to register:

Check out webisode #1:

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Are We There Yet?

You know the old line about traveling with kids by car: "Are we there yet?" You probably don't hear that often coming to Chattanooga since the central location makes it an easy drive for many folks.

"Are we there yet?" seems fitting in another way this year. While it seems like the summer season has flown by, Labor Day falls on September 7th this year, the latest possible date for the holiday.

A three-day weekend is always worth waiting for, but now the wait is worth even more.

Simply point and click your way to to print a special Labor Day coupon to save on a getaway to the Tennessee Aquarium.

You’re taking 3 days off, so why not take $3 off Aquarium admission?

Great things come in threes at the Tennessee Aquarium.

Chill out with the Tennessee Aquarium’s newest penguin trios:
Macaroni penguin family Paulie, Chaos & baby
Gentoo penguin family Zeus, Pebbles & baby

Three new animal encounter specialists introduce guests to cool critters every hour of every day in both Aquarium buildings.

Three divers in the daily Secret Reef dive shows.

Three new hands-on interactive exhibits added in 2009.

Discover the decorated home of the Chinese three-striped box turtle.

Pose with three, (or more) of your friends inside the “Blue Water, White Death” shark cage.

Three-hour sunset cruises aboard the River Gorge Explorer.

Enjoy all three: Tennessee Aquarium, IMAX 3D Theater and River Gorge Explorer.