Chattanooga, Tenn. (March 19, 2021) – When the Tennessee Aquarium closed its doors last March to slow the spread of the pandemic through the community, its galleries — once full of delight and laughter — fell eerily silent. Even as the world outside all but stopped, however, teams of animal experts continued to see to the needs of 12,000 animals whose care requirements could not be interrupted.
Each morning, these specialists arrived like clockwork to carry out their duties in a gloomy, uncertain limbo. While the otters, penguins, sharks and other animals had no clue of the state of the world outside, the Aquarium’s team felt the mounting stresses of the pandemic. When someone suggested filling the suddenly silent galleries with music through the Aquarium’s speaker system, it seemed like an easy means to soothe these essential employees.
On Wednesday, March 31 — more than a year after the River Journey and Ocean Journey halls first fell silent — the Aquarium’s staff and their colleagues at zoos and aquariums from coast to coast will get an even bigger musical boost thanks to the generosity of some of country music’s biggest stars.
Brad Paisley, Old Dominion, Ashley McBryde, Wynonna, Riley Green, Jessie James Decker, Shy Carter and others will take the virtual stage for “All Together for Animals,” an incredible virtual concert fundraising event. These award-winning acts have pledged their talents in support of the more than 200 zoos and aquariums accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.
For nonprofit institutions like the Tennessee Aquarium, this benefit concert will help turn up the volume on a lengthy recovery process.
“Our closure began last year when we were preparing for the busy spring break timeframe,” says Keith Sanford, the Tennessee Aquarium’s president and CEO. “The combination of being closed for 96 days and dramatic loss of attendance and revenue over the past year has had a profound impact on our mission.”
The Aquarium’s operational costs are more than $400,000 each week. These recurring expenses include providing expert animal care, utility costs, payroll and paying down existing debt.
Country music stars are known for their philanthropic spirit. Through “All Together for Animals,” they’ll come together to show their love of wildlife while supporting the zoo and aquarium professionals who have dedicated their lives to inspiring visitors, educating children and protecting and restoring endangered species.
This event is sweet music to the Aquarium, which faces a lengthy recovery from the substantial financial shortfall caused by the ongoing pandemic.
“While we are deeply grateful for the community support we’ve received to this point, there is still a tremendous gap we’re trying to bridge,” Sanford says. “We’ll never place our financial fitness above the health and wellbeing of our guests, staff, volunteers and animals, but operating safely with strict capacity limits in place means our recovery will continue to be a long haul.”
The “All Together For Animals” concert provides everyone an opportunity to support the Aquarium while enjoying a star-filled event. The virtual show will be streamed at 8 p.m. Eastern on Wednesday, March 31. For a contribution of $30, participating households will receive exclusive access to this one-time event. Half of proceeds from each ticket sold via this link will directly benefit the Tennessee Aquarium: https://aftontickets.com/event/buybroadcastticket/ko69n12x3v?aff=TennesseeAquarium1
The ticketing site also provides opportunities for individuals to make additional contributions. By using the Tennessee Aquarium’s unique link, 100 percent of these excess donations will go directly to the Aquarium.