Tennessee Aquarium's Penguin Can Now Be Called to Dinner
By Thom Benson
Chattanooga, TN – Tennessee Aquarium aviculturists have selected “Shivers” as the name for the youngest female gentoo at Penguins’ Rock. And visitors might get to meet Shivers or several of her penguin pals while special penguin encounter programs are offered during January and February.
This penguin has recently undergone a bit of a personality change according to keepers.“Normally when we would enter the exhibit to clean or feed, Shivers would keep her distance or jump into the water,” said aviculturist Loribeth Aldrich. “Now greets us with a bow and a hiss, which is a typical gentoo greeting. That’s usually followed by a gentle nibble on the hand.” Senior aviculturist Amy Graves says this is a pleasant change in disposition. “Shivers is much more curious about people now and more willing to take food by hand,” said Graves. “It’s a nice change.”
More than 800 names were submitted at the Aquarium and online during the contest. The avalanche of votes included fun word play based on the parents’ names. Berry was suggested as in Blue, Berry and Biscuit. Bliss, a spinoff of Blue and Biscuit was also among names such as Penny, Pearl, and Piper. Because of her athletic ability and swimming skills, Michelle Phelps was suggested as a tribute to the Olympic Gold Medalist Michael Phelps. Among the celebrity names suggested were Lady Gaga and Ariel, after the star of Disney’s The Little Mermaid.
In the end, aviculturists settled on Shivers, which was the name suggested by Mary Ann Jamison of Bristol, TN. Jamison will enjoy a 2011 Chattanooga Prize package which includes overnight accommodations at the Chattanooga Marriot at the Convention Center and a family four pack of tickets to the Tennessee Aquarium, IMAX 3D Theater, River Gorge Explorer and Creative Discovery Museum.
Aquarium guests may be pleased to learn that Shivers is also turning out to be a bit of an explorer. “All of a sudden she enjoys running into the backup area to look at everything and take in the sights,” said Aldrich. That may mean visitors will get to meet Shivers up close.
The Tennessee Aquarium is offering a limited number of trips behind the scenes at Penguins’ Rock. An Aquarium aviculturist will begin each 30 minute experience by leading visitors to a private observation deck. While viewing the birds from above, guests will be able to quiz the expert about caring for these charismatic animals and individual penguin personalities. Next, visitors will get up close and personal when the keeper door opens. It might be Shivers or Nipper waddling through the keeper door to greet excited guests. But it could be Biscuit, Blue, Pepper or Shamrock greeting guests and posing for cameras.
Two penguin encounters will be offered per day at 10:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. on Saturdays from January 8th through February 26th. Each session is limited to six people, ages 5 and up. Cost is $15.00 per person in addition to Aquarium admission unless you're a member. For the animals’ safety, visitors will not be able to touch the birds. Behind-the-scenes tickets can be purchased at the Aquarium ticketing center or in advance at www.tnaqua.org/PlanYourVisit/TicketInformation.aspx.