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The Tennessee Aquarium’s Tropical Holiday Adventure

11/12/2009 3:24:42 PM

Aricari and orchids A Colorful World Excursion in Downtown Chattanooga

Chattanooga, Tenn. (November 12, 2009) -  A very special nose is leading the way to holiday fun at the Tennessee Aquarium this year, but not the shiny, red nose of a certain reindeer. Think Tropical Holiday Adventure and you’re following the specialized beak of the green aracari, (pronounced ARE-uh-sorry) the smallest member of the toucan family. The aracari is a new bird making his debut during the Aquarium’s Tropical Holiday Adventure which begins on November 20th and runs through January 3, 2010. “The beak is considered a soft beak that’s used to grab fruit in the tropical rainforests of the aracari’s home range,” said Susie Grant, the senior educator who’s been training the bird for animal encounter programs. “His beak is much different than the hard beaks of the hyacinth macaws, which have beaks made for cracking open nuts.”

Colorful is the word used to describe the aracari’s beak and plumage, as well as his personality. “He is very curious and friendly. He flew right to me the very first time I met him,” said Laura Lomenick, one of the Aquarium’s animal encounter specialists. Both Lomenick and Grant believe this little toucan will be a big hit with visitors because of the bird’s handsome looks and playful manner. “He likes to catch blueberries, grapes and papaya,” said Grant

Several other colorful tropical species have been recently added to the animal encounter program. Aquarium visitors might meet the golden-hued, Solomon Island leaf frog or festive-looking, red and green fire-bellied toad along with dozens of other fascinating creatures during these daily, impromptu programs.

Guests will also have an opportunity to soak in the warmth and colorful views of the Tropical Cove, which will be bursting with colorful orchids this year. Charlene Nash, Aquarium horticulturist, says these exotic plants have long been a symbol of beauty, love and luxury since the 1800’s. “The first orchid was bloomed by William Cattley in 1818, beginning the so-called ‘orchid fever,’ which caused infected enthusiasts to search for and possess the most stunning and elegant exotic flower in the world,” Nash said. This fever can strike on almost every continent on Earth. According to Nash, there are about 25,000 orchid species which are found in almost every habitat on earth except the frozen landscape of Antarctica.

During the Tropical Holiday Adventure, Aquarium guests who catch orchid fever will have an opportunity to take a bit of the tropics home. Orchids will be available for purchase inside the Ocean Journey building. Five to ten varieties will be offered, ranging in price from $15 to $50. Culture sheets and expert advice will lessen the fear of owning one of these beauties or giving them as holiday gifts.

Visitors can also just relax and enjoy the vibe of Caribbean holiday music while tropically clad “Santa” divers drift effortlessly among schools of colorful reef fish. Several daily programs create just the right atmosphere for the kid in all of us, so follow your nose to colorful holiday fun at the Tennessee Aquarium!

“Ho, Ho, H20” daily schedule - Nov. 20, 2009 - Jan. 3, 2010
(The Aquarium is closed on Thanksgiving and Christmas Day.)

  • 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. – Animal Encounters every hour in both Aquarium buildings. Locations and animals vary throughout the day.
  • 10:15 a.m. – Help keepers surface feed stingrays & bamboo sharks – Ocean Journey – Tropical Cove, Shark Island, Level 4
  • 10:30 a.m. – Delight in the first flight of butterflies when they are released into a lush tropical garden – Ocean Journey – Butterfly Garden, Level 4
  • 11 a.m. – Talk to tropical “Santa” divers as they take you on a shark-filled journey through spectacular coral formations – Ocean Journey -- Secret Reef, Level 2
  • 11:15a.m. - You otter chill out with the river otters during “enrichment” time. See what happens when treats, ice and toys mix with two playful otters – River Journey – Cove Forest, Level 4
  • 11:30 a.m. - Talk to tropical “Santa” divers as they take you on a shark-filled journey through spectacular coral formations – Ocean Journey -- Secret Reef, Level 2
  • 1 p.m. -- Get a gander at one of the real “Parrot Heads,” the highly social hyacinth macaw, during this program that explores the bold behaviors and adaptations of the largest member of the parrot family – Ocean Journey – Tropical Cove, Level 4
  • 2 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. -- Talk to tropical “Santa” divers as they take you on a shark-filled journey through spectacular coral formations – Ocean Journey -- Secret Reef, Level 2
  • 3:30 p.m. -- Join the seahorses for their version of “Slurpin’ a Cheeseburger in Paradise” and discover what these steeds of the deep really eat – River Journey, Level A
  • 4 p.m. – Surround yourself with butterflies and meet their perfect complement, crested wood partridges living under the trees - Ocean Journey – Butterfly Garden, Level 4

Visitors can extend their Tropical Holiday Adventure at the IMAX 3D Theater. Families can choose to take a virtual diving trip to some of the most exotic coral reefs in the world while viewing, “Under the Sea 3D.” “The Polar Express 3D” returns to the six-story IMAX screen as a seasonal favorite. Many guests make it a point to see Polar Express 3D as a part of their family holiday celebration. Finally, anyone who’s starving for an extra helping of 3D animated fun will enjoy, “Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs”. This IMAX 3D film will thrill audiences as a flood of food fills the giant screen.

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