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A Chattanooga Riverboat Cruise on the River Gorge Explorer is part thrill ride and part nature tour.

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Holiday Break Fun: Critter Cruises and More!

12/21/2010 12:27:20 PM

The Aquarium's woodchuck is a true hibernator.

Above image: Sleeping on the job? Groundhogs, like the Tennessee Aquarium’s Chattanooga Chuck, are true hibernators.
 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                     Contact: Thom Benson 423-785-3007
Critter Cruises, a Woodchuck that Snoozes and a Penguin That Needs a Name
Fill Your Holiday Break with Joy at the Tennessee Aquarium

Chattanooga, Tenn. (December 21, 2010) – The holiday season is a time for making memories and the Tennessee Aquarium is offering daily events so families can unwind and have fun together. Enjoy critter cruises, a woodchuck that snoozes and help the Aquarium name the newest penguin.

Want to get out in nature? Come out of your shell and enjoy a Critter Cruise aboard the River Gorge Explorer. The Aquarium’s loveable, furry mascot Ottessa Otter will greet passengers and pose for photographs before each fun-filled excursion December 26 to January 2. These special cruises depart from the Chattanooga Pier at 12:30 pm. An Aquarium educator will share the story of the turtle and the hare with youngsters. Then passengers will be introduced to an eastern box turtle and a snapping turtle. The Explorer’s cabin is climate-controlled. So if it’s chilly outside, it’s comfortably warm inside.

Chattanooga Chuck, the Aquarium’s weather forecasting groundhog, is plum tuckered out these days. “Woodchucks are true hibernators and sleep so soundly that they are almost impossible to wake up,” said Lindsay Rogers, one of the Aquarium’s animal encounter specialists. “Their bodies slow down and their incisors even quit growing during hibernation.” Look for a drowsy Chuck to make a few appearances at the Aquarium’s Animal Presentation Station in the River Journey lower lobby. Lots of other, more wide-eyed creatures, will make daily appearances from 10:30 am to 12:30 pm and again from 1:30 pm to 3:30 pm. Guests may meet a tiny toucan, brightly colored amphibian or touchable sea creature like a horseshoe crab. “We haven’t noticed any of the other animals snoring like Chuck,” said Rogers.

The otters are almost always bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. Visitors may want to stop by the Cove Forest exhibit at 11:15 am to help with their enrichment time. These feisty mammals love getting treats, ice or toys. Otter enrichment is just one of ten daily activities offered during the Aquarium’s “Tropical Holiday Adventure.” Guests can also feed stingrays and guitarfish, talk to SCUBA divers, help release butterflies or dance with a pair of playful parrots.

Visitors will want to spend some time at Penguins’ Rock observing the gentoo penguin that’s wearing flipper bands with two blue beads separated by a white bead. This is the female that was born last June. Guests will probably find her playing in the pool. Once they get a feel for her personality, visitors are invited to submit their vote in the penguin naming contest. A ballot box is set up in the Ocean Journey gift shop.

By entering the Penguin Naming contest, voters could win a trip to Chattanooga for 2011 which includes overnight accommodations at the Chattanooga Marriot at the Convention Center and a family four pack of tickets to the Tennessee Aquarium, IMAX 3D Theater, River Gorge Explorer and Creative Discovery Museum.

At The Tennessee Aquarium IMAX Theater, there’s still time still plenty of time to go to Tahiti for free.  With each paid Aquarium admission, visitors will get one free ticket to see Ultimate Wave: Tahiti 3D just by mentioning the film. Audiences love the lush, tropical scenery, surfing action and waves on a six-story screen. Woody, Buzz Lightyear and the rest of the Toy Story 3 gang can also be seen in 3D through January 6th.

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