Friday, May 30, 2014

Nesting Season Going Swimmingly on Penguins’ Rock

Seven otters are making a big splash in the Aquarium’s new River Otters Falls exhibit, located atop the River Journey building. Meanwhile there’s plenty of excitement in Ocean Journey as well. Five pairs of penguins spent the month of May building nests and laying eggs. Our aviculturists are currently monitoring the progress of six eggs. Right now, the count is split down the middle with three eggs from each species.

Macaroni penguins typically lay two eggs, but the first one is almost always smaller and quickly discarded by the parents. One scientific explanation for this behavior is that the first egg may serve to distract predators, giving the second egg a better chance at survival.

In contrast, Gentoo penguins may lay up to two viable eggs each year. With a couple of Gentoo pairs still building nests, there’s a chance for more eggs this season.

As much fun as egg watching is this time of year, we are always careful to remember that, “You never count your penguins before they hatch.” Inexperienced parents can be rough on eggs (and chicks) and sometimes they get damaged or neglected for unknown reasons. Our experts want the birds to develop their parental skills. Therefore, aviculturists carefully monitor each pair and their eggs. If all goes well, there may be some baby penguins to enjoy watching.

In the meantime, we look forward to keeping you updated throughout the season. You can also watch the penguins’ activity in real time with our Penguin Rock Cam.

Keep your flippers crossed for new chicks this summer!

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

The Top 5 Reasons to Kick Off Summer in Downtown Chattanooga

Memorial Day weekend traditionally kicks off the summer travel season. Here are five reasons to make Downtown Chattanooga a part of your summer plans. With new attractions, great dining options and more to explore, there’s something for everyone in downtown.

1) All New River Otter Falls

North American River Otters are furry, feisty and fun to watch. Even though these charismatic creatures are a native Southeastern species, they aren't easy to spot in the wild. But otter fans can come face-to- furry-face with their favorite mammals at River Otter Falls inside the Tennessee Aquarium’s Cove Forest. 

A romp of agile otters have a spacious new home to enjoy. It’s designed to bring out the best in their natural behaviors. You’ll see them scampering up and down multi-tiered landscape which features a lengthy stream, waterfalls and cascades. You’ll be fascinated by their climbing abilities and athleticism underwater.

The otters will explore their habitat in various groups each day, so you might see two, three or four otters at any one time playfully tussling with one another.

2) Galapagos 3D: Nature’s Wonderland – Narrated by Jeff Corwin

In the vastness of the Pacific Ocean, there is a paradise unlike any other: the Galapagos. Among these remote volcanic islands, life has played out over millions of years in relative isolation. The result is a wonderland of nature, with a remarkable collection of plants and charismatic animals that have all adapted to this unique environment. Meet giant half-ton tortoises and marine iguanas that spit sea-salt. Dance with the tropical albatrosses and hunt fishes with the colorful blue-footed boobies. Swim with tiny penguins thousands of miles away from their natural habitats. This is a story of discovery, of survival against the odds, and of nature's ingenuity, all brought to life in stunning 3D.

3) High Point Climbing and Fitness 

Tennessee Aquarium otters trying out the outdoor climbing wall at High Point Climbing and Fitness
Opened in late 2013, High Point Climbing And Fitness is a one of the nation’s most unique climbing facilities, offering climbing inside and outside. 

The outdoor climbing walls feature climbing on transparent climbing material that is like nothing else. There are lead, top rope, and auto-belay walls, as well as a 15 meter speed climbing wall. 

Inside, there are climbing areas for everyone. From beginner walls to  top roping room, leading climbing pit, and two boulder areas. There is even a campus, moon, and adjustable wall. 

4) The Wizard of Oz at the Creative Discovery Museum

We’re off to see The Wizard at the Creative Discovery Museum this summer.  The Museum hosts the first-ever licensed traveling educational exhibit based on the beloved movie classic. The Wizard of Oz exhibit is set to open on Saturday, May 24, 2014.

Visit Professor Marvel’s Wagon and create your own tornado in Dorothy’s bedroom. Explore Munchkin houses and meet Dorothy’s friends the Scarecrow, the Cowardly Lion and the Tin Man. Enter The Emerald City and create a “Horse of a Different Color,” play at the kaleidoscope and prism stations, but “pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.” Next, climb the mountain to the Wicked Witch’s Castle to capture the Wicked Witch’s broom from Winged Monkeys. Finally, click your heels three times while reciting, “There’s no place like home,” as guests depart the Land of Oz.

5) Local Markets on Saturday and Sunday 

This year marks the opening of the 5th season for the Chattanooga River Market.  Held on the beautiful riverfront downtown at the Tennessee Aquarium Plaza, this market is a weekly showcase of the talented artists and craftsmen in our area. Visitors to the Saturday Market will find handmade jewelry, locally designed and made children’s apparel, pottery, photography, woodworks, soaps, glasswork, artisan bath products and more. Check out the live music schedule here.

On Sundays, the Chattanooga Market at the First Tennessee Pavilion features farm fresh produce, meats, cheeses and artisan foods, as well as, local arts & crafts such as photography, canvas art, sculpture, jewelry, soaps and many other handmade products.  Patrons enjoy weekly themed events such as the popular Beast Feast BBQ, Chattanooga Oktoberfest and theCast Iron Cook-off.

Local food trucks and eateries offer the cultural flavors of the South on the patio every week for lunch and refreshments. 

The Chattanooga Market is held Sundays, April 27-Nov. 23, from 11am-4pm at the First Tennessee Pavilion. This year, a Wednesday market was added to the weekly schedule at the pavilion.