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Penguin Seen on Aquarium Plaza

penguinCHATTANOOGA -- Some people have wondered if a march of the penguins would be possible on the Tennessee Aquarium Plaza while downtown Chattanooga resembles Antarctica.

Although it's true that gentoo and macaronis prefer snow and cold, Aquarium aviculturists say there are two big reasons why a snow day outside Penguins' Rock would not be a good idea. "There are definite quarantine issues," said senior aviculturist Amy Graves. "We work very hard to ensure that no harmful fungus or bacteria gets into the exhibit, so we could never allow our cold-climate penguins to venture outside."

The second reason a snow day outside would be a no-no has to do with containment. "Penguins are incredibly fast, especially on slippery surfaces," said Graves. "They're feet are made for snow and ice and ours are not."

Penguin keepers also say that while gentoos could brave the frigid temperatures forecast in the upcoming days, macaronis prefer it a bit warmer. "Our macaronis would have a difficult time adjusting to extended periods of time in the single digits or teens," said Graves.

So to put a smile on the faces of those who have asked about a penguin snow day, Aquarium staffers sculpted a penguin out of snow. Named Shivers after the youngest gentoo, this bird with yellow beak and happy feet stands outside the Ocean Journey building. Already, it has proven to be a new photo-op location for Aquarium visitors.

Shivers the snow penguin may be around through Friday as Chattanooga's high temperature is not expected to get above freezing before then.

Published January 15, 2011

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