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Ripleys Aquarium of the Smokies Celebrates Historical Birth

Gatlinburg, Tenn; July 3, 2013: …Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies is celebrating the historical birth of an African Black Footed Baby Penguin. This great little bundle of joy came into the earth on May 4, 2013 to the parents of Madonna “Madon” (father) and Tara (mother). The precious penguin weighed in at 57g and now weighs 2000g. The penguin is doing well and is now being monitored around the clock by the experienced Ripley Husbandry team.

“We are so excited about this birth. We have been waiting years for this exciting moment. This is a historical event at Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies. Any birth is a beautiful thing here at the aquarium, but the birth of an endangered animal is truly spectacular. Best of all, this baby is ridiculously cute. Everyone needs to see it,” said Ryan DeSear, general manger of Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies.

Every visitor is able to see the baby penguin in the nursery habitat in Penguin Playhouse as part of the tour through the aquarium. The baby penguin is a Must-See and Added Value to Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies regular admission.

Southern African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds (SANCCOB) is a non-profit seabird rehabilitation center based in Cape Town, Africa that helps rebuild habitats in South Africa. Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies continues in their efforts and support of the African Black-footed Penguin as part of the Species Survival Plan of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.

In 2010, Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies added African Black Footed Penguins as a part of the $5 million Ripley’s Penguin Playhouse. The exhibit was recently named one of the 10 best places to see Penguins by 10Best.com, a division of USA Today Travel.

Quote by 10Best.com: “Penguin Playhouse at Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies in Gatlinburg might be the world’s best penguin exhibits. The $5 million project includes indoor and outdoor exhibit with innovative viewing options. Crawl through transparent tunnels to see the birds from below or pop-up to see them nose to beak,”

In Ripley’s Penguin Playhouse, burrowed nesting boxes and mud holes have been built into the rocky habitat for nest building. Mature birds lay two eggs in the nest, which is protected from the sun and most predators, and both parents incubate the eggs and feed the chicks for two to four months. African penguins breed in huge, noisy colonies and the mating pair stays together in a tight bond for their entire life.

African penguins are considered “Vulnerable” which means they are facing a high risk of extinction in the wild. Major reasons include depletion of their food from overfishing and pollution. Since 1930, the African penguin population has dropped from an estimated one million down to 150,000.

Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies is located at traffic light #5 on the Parkway in Gatlinburg, TN and is open 365 days a year. For ticket information, call 888-240-1358 or visit www.ripleysaquariumofthesmokies.com .

Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies, the second most attended attraction in Tennessee, was Voted the Number One Aquarium in America by TripAdvisor.com and Forbes Traveler has name it one of America’s best aquariums. Thousands of exotic sea creatures live in its 1.4 million gallons of water. The aquarium is known for its shark exhibit that features 11-foot sharks and one of the longest underwater tunnels in the world. Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies is part of the Ripley Entertainment Inc. family of worldwide entertainment facilities that include another world class aquarium-Ripley’s Aquarium of Myrtle Beach, SC. More than 13 million people visit Ripley’s 70 plus attractions in 13 countries each year. Ripley Entertainment, Inc is a division of the Jim Pattison Group, the third largest privately held company in Canada.

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