published Tuesday, January 11th, 2011

'Snow penguin' seen outside Tennessee Aquarium

  • photo
    Shivers, a "snow penguin," outside the Tennessee Aquarium.
    Photo courtesy Tennessee Aquarium

While the penguins at the Tennessee Aquarium may be tempted to venture outside for a snow day, aquarium aviculturists don’t think that’s such a good idea.

Although it’s true that gentoo and macaronis prefer snow and cold, “There are definite quarantine issues,” said senior aviculturist Amy Graves in a news release. “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.”

There’s also the risk that a little frolic outside might turn into a high-speed chase.

“Penguins are incredibly fast, especially on slippery surfaces,” said Graves. “Their feet are made for snow and ice and ours are not.”

According to aquarium officials, 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.

The closest visitors can get to a penguin outside the Aquarium is a “snow penguin” sculpted by staffers. Named Shivers after the youngest gentoo, it stands outside the Ocean Journey building and has already proven to be a good photo opportunity for Aquarium visitors, according to a news release.

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

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