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Tennessee Aquarium adding additional hours for May

Apr 30, 2021

Chattanooga, Tenn. (April 30, 2021) – With the mercury climbing and the sun dawdling ever longer above the horizon, the Tennessee Aquarium is expanding its hours to accommodate even more guests in the lead-up to summer.

A daily capacity limit will remain in place for the foreseeable future, but to safely welcome as many visitors as possible, the Aquarium will offer extended hours in May.

The Aquarium will be open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. each Saturday in May (May 1, 8, 15 and 22). Availability will further expand to 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. — three additional hours of operation — for Memorial Day weekend (Friday, May 28, thru Monday, May 31).

A guest, wearing a face shield, viewing alligators in the Delta Country gallery

“Our priority is always the safety for our guests, staff, volunteers, and animals,” says Aquarium president and CEO Keith Sanford. “These extended hours of operation will open up additional allotments of tickets to help support our nonprofit mission while maintaining the capacity limits we have established. We look forward to welcoming families throughout May and into summer.”

Sanford encourages guests to plan their Aquarium visit as they would for a concert or sporting event and purchase timed-entry tickets online in advance.

In March, the Aquarium launched a yearlong celebration, the Global Passport Program, to help guests learn even more about its living collection, which includes more than 11,000 animals representing 600 species from all seven continents.

Every month of the program, the spotlight of on-site signage and online content moves to focus on species found on a different continent. In March, North American animals were highlighted before the program shifted to feature South America in April.

In May, Global Passport will home in on Asian animals, including colossal Giant Japanese Spider Crabs, prismatic Indo-Pacific reef fish and a host of adorable turtle hatchlings in the new Turtles of the World gallery.

tropical fish swimming in the Indo-Pacifiic tank
Spiny Turtle
Giant Japanese Spider Crab

Guests can get even more from their visit by downloading and printing off a “passport” from tnaqua.org that’s packed with information and activities. To commemorate their adventure, guests can drop by the gift shop to receive a free sticker “stamp” to add to their passport, with new stamps for each continent offered each month through September.

Guests arriving during the late spring and early summer will notice a flurry of activity in the Aquarium’s colony of Gentoo and Macaroni Penguins. These adorable birds have been hard at work since early April building nests as they enter their breeding season. Visitors will be able to observe this exciting activity and can keep a weather eye out for the arrival of eggs and eventually chicks in late May or early June.

Before their arrival, guests can stoke their excitement by checking in on several Aquarium exhibits through 24/7 video streams at tnaqua.org of:

a black bear cub and white bear cub standing on a riverbank

Film still from Great Bear Rainforest 3D - opening Memorial Day weekend at the Tennessee Aquarium IMAX Theater

The IMAX 3D Theater, located across the plaza from the Aquarium, offers a perfect complement to a tour of the Ocean Journey and River Journey buildings. The theater presents exciting films on a six-story screen — the largest in Chattanooga — via a state-of-the-art IMAX with Laser projection system that shows 3D films at levels of brightness and visual clarity unmatched by any facility within 500 miles of Chattanooga.

Currently, visitors can take in a pair of exciting IMAX offerings

  • Turtle Odyssey 3D features the awe-inspiring journey of a young Green Sea Turtle, Bungee, as she explores the life-rich waters of the Great Barrier Reef and the South Pacific.
  • Into America’s Wild 3D showcases the incredible diversity of landscapes in the United States and celebrates how answering the call of the wild can lead to moments of wonder and self-discovery.
  • On Memorial Day weekend, the theater will begin screening a new film, Great Bear Rainforest, which visits the lush home of the rarest bear species on Earth.

To provide time for Aquarium staff members who wish to be to become fully vaccinated, the Aquarium will extend a mask policy for all guests ages 5 and up. This measure will remain in place at least through Memorial Day (May 31). The Aquarium’s efforts to ensure the comfort and safety of visitors are explained in further detail at tnaqua.org/welcomeback/

To purchase IMAX tickets or learn more about the films on offer, visit tnaqua.org/imax/

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