Lemur Forest Now Open At The Tennessee Aquarium In Chattanooga

Wednesday, March 1, 2017 - by Thom Benson

After years of planning and months of construction, the Tennessee Aquarium celebrated the opening on Wednesday of Lemur Forest, the latest major addition to its collection of exhibits.
Nine adorable, charismatic lemurs — seven Ring-tailed and two Red-ruffed — have moved into the new exhibit, which anchors a complete overhaul to the top floor of the Aquarium’s Ocean Journey building.
Guests entering the gallery will feel transported to the wilds of Madagascar, the lemurs’ native habitat, thanks to a design reflecting that African nation’s rainforests and arid, “spiny” forests.
Visitors won’t have to struggle to spot the exhibit’s namesake, courtesy of an innovative exhibit design that offers consistent sightlines along the numerous routes the animals can traverse, including an aerial path arcing directly over the exhibit’s entrance.
In all, Lemur Forest encompasses more than 125 feet of horizontal distance and dozens of feet of elevation changes. The exhibit also features more than 200 linear feet of artificial “vines,” which can be moved and re-attached to a network of anchor points, creating new and interesting pathways to slake the lemurs’ thirst for exploration and mental stimulation. By tapping into the tremendous (and previously under-utilized) vertical space under the Aquarium’s iconic glass peaks, Lemur Forest offers perches more than 30 feet overhead.
“We’ve created a really dynamic environment that affords the lemurs a lot of choices,” said Dave Collins, the Aquarium’s director of forests and animal behavior. “They’re frequently in close proximity to our guests as they jump and climb around.”
For the last several months, the lemurs have been adjusting well to life at the Tennessee Aquarium. Since being allowed on exhibit last week, they have been energetically exploring the Forest and are showcasing natural behaviors that indicate to the Aquarium’s husbandry staff that they are comfortable with each other and their new home. “When they are chasing each other and tussling, that’s a sure sign they are very comfortable with their surroundings,” said Chelsea Feast, one of the Aquarium’s lemur experts. “They’ve also been resting together in what’s known as a ‘lemur ball’ in public view. This is when they huddle up together and nap.”
Visitors to Lemur Forest will be able to see the lemurs demonstrating other traits for which they are so well known. Overhead, the tree-loving Red-ruffs often clamber to the highest perches or hang upside down from branches by their back feet while snacking on fruit. Closer to terra firma, guests will see the Ring-tails warming themselves in a yoga-like pose called “sun worshipping” or demonstrating their phenomenal agility with blink-quick bounds from branch to branch.
The changes to the top floor of the building also include a comprehensive update to Stingray Bay, the Aquarium’s largest touch tank. With new, slimmer walls and a step up installed around its taller sections, the tank has been made more accessible for younger guests, who will find it easier than ever to lay fingers on the shark and ray species swimming through its warm waters.
Aquarium guests are encouraged to download the Tennessee Aquarium app to have the daily schedule of Extraordinary Experiences handy. These entertaining and educational programs, such as the new Leapin’ Lemurs programs at 11 a.m. and 3 p.m., are offered free with Aquarium admission.

Baseball Legend Cal Ripken, Jr., Music, Larger-Than-Life-Sized Balloons Highlight Pigeon Forge’s New Music In The Mountains Spring Parade On May 4

With Cal Ripken, Jr. leading the way, Pigeon Forge’s (Tennessee) new Music in the Mountains spring parade is set for May 4 at 6 p.m. (Eastern) on the city’s Parkway with entries from Tennessee, Ohio, West Virginia, Kentucky, Virginia and Georgia plus several new elements to extend the celebration into the weekend.   Mr. Ripken, a member of the National Baseball Hall ... (click for more)

This Week’s Tennessee Tourism Round Up

Spend a date night around the campfire, experience a 3D Rolling Stones’ concert, find out the latest runway fashions, interact with dinosaurs, savor barbecue or a slawburger and take a Tennessee Whiskey adventure. Here’s what’s going on across Tennessee this week. For a complete list of events, visit tnvacation.com/calendar. Ongoing  Nashville – Fifty photos in ... (click for more)

Man Who Killed 4 At Waffle House Is In Custody

Travis Reinking, 29, the suspect in the shooting at a Waffle House near Nashville on Sunday, has been taken into custody, according to police. Reinking, who killed four people and injured two others at a Waffle House near Nashville on Sunday morning was on the loose Monday morning and had been added to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation's ‘Top 10 Most Wanted’ list. ... (click for more)

Pet Raccoon That Was Destroyed Did Not Have Rabies

A pet raccoon that was destroyed in order to test for rabies after biting a neighbor child did not have rabies, Chattanooga attorney Chris Jones. The family has been advised it can pick up the remains of Boomer at the Chattanooga Hamilton County Health Department. Attorney Jones, who specializes in wildlife cases, earlier argued there was no valid reason for health ... (click for more)

Set Up A Council On Love, Not A Council On Hate - And Response

In Mayor Berke's April 19 version of the Berke Bulletin, he announced plans to establish a Council on Hate and indicated a focus on tolerance. I beg of him to reconsider that plan. One problem in Chattanooga and in other places in America is that there are some people who have already established an informal version of a Council on Hate. I suggest that a more productive plan ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Always Know The Facts

I adore the fact so many of America’s high school and college students are very active in our battle against violence in our schools but bemoan the fact that when you combine youth and ‘lack of experience’ they often are misguided and ill-informed. The best example came on Saturday when a reporter for Campus Reform walked around the Cal State-Santa Barbara campus asking the students ... (click for more)