Be A Critter For A Day During Spring Break At The Tennessee Aquarium

Monday, March 7, 2016 - by Thom Benson
- photo by Tennessee Aquarium

What if you could be a (insert your favorite Aquarium animal here)? That’s the idea for Critter for a Day, the Tennessee Aquarium’s new spring break program running March 12 to April 10. During this program, kids can explore, with a keeper, what it’s like to be an otter, penguin, shark or any of the Aquarium’s other wonderful creatures.

First stop on this animal adventure, guests get the chance to look the part. A special craft area will be set up on the lower level of the River Journey building with materials kids can use to transform them into the animal of their choice.

To find out how animal experts care for the critter alter egos of Aquarium guests, a new program has been created for Spring Break. “Brain Games,” a program about animal enrichment, gives guests insight on this important aspect of keeping the Aquarium’s animals healthy and happy.

“Animals in their native habitats spend their day figuring out how and where to get food along with how to stay safe,” said Susie Grant, the Aquarium’s Guest Engagement Manager. “While under our care these are things they don’t have to worry about. However, it is important for all creatures to stay mentally alert and active.” Guests will discover some of the ways the Aquarium’s critters are given opportunities to explore and play. “Enrichment often involves brain games that allow the critters to participate in natural behaviors such as climbing, foraging, or investigating new items.”

The Aquarist team will give spring breakers a “taste” of how Aquarium experts serve up a super-sized buffet for all of the creatures within River Journey and Ocean Journey. Kids can meet Chef Aqua who will describe how the special kitchens in each building are beehives of activity every day. “Our chefs prepare nutritionally complete diets for all of our critters great and small,” said Thom Demas, the Aquarium’s curator of fishes. “Chef Aqua will be a popular program because people are fascinated to learn how many specialized diets we prepare each day.”

Chef Aqua has a big job with so many mouths to feed. Did you know that each year our turtles and fish eat over 5,000 heads of lettuce? Another 5,000 pounds of squid is fed to the sharks and other fish, while 2,000 pounds of shrimp go to the cuttlefish!

Kids won’t mind spending a little spring break in class. Especially when they attend Swamp School in the Delta Country exhibit. Families will get a peek into an animal training session with Aquarium experts who care for the critters every day. Just like people, animals have special needs to achieve overall wellness. “While training is serious business for our team, it often looks like playtime for our critters,” said Sara Carlson, the Aquarium’s manager of behavioral husbandry and animal encounter programs. “For example, otters are regularly taught to present their bellies or show their teeth so that veterinary staff can get the best look at them during exams. Show your teeth on cue, get a tasty treat.”

The new spring break Critter for a Day programs, along with more than 20 Extraordinary Experiences, are offered free with Aquarium admission. With so much to do, families are encouraged to download the FREE Tennessee Aquarium appwhich includes the daily program schedule and other information to help guests make the most of their visit.

Spring Break Critter for a Day Activities:

Craft Station – 10AM to 2PM in the River Journey Lower Level

Brain Games – 12:30 PM in the River Journey Auditorium

Chef Aqua – 1:15 PM on Ocean Journey Level 2

Swamp School – 3:30 PM River Journey Delta Swamp

Spring break will be out of this world when families see Star Wars: The Force Awakens in the new format director/producer J.J. Abrams called, “shockingly better.” They will also have bragging rights after seeing this movie in one of only 20 theaters in the world with the IMAX with Laser projection system.

The new IMAX with Laser projection system is really wowing audiences with brighter, bolder and more colorful images and a new enhanced surround sound system. Audience reviews about National Parks Adventure 3D have also been stellar.

The following movies are being shown in the IMAX with Laser format during spring break:

Born to be Wild 3D

National Parks Adventure 3D

Star Wars: The Force Awakens 3D

Under the Sea 3D

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