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Community    |    Articles of interest to the community.

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published on 09/05/2008

Tennessee Aquarium Penguin Breaks Into Art World

Communications Manager Tennessee Aquarium & IMAX Theater

“Peep” cannot be called a starving artist. She gobbles down her share of smelt and capelin just like the other penguins at the Tennessee Aquarium. However, this gentoo penguin still finds room for more fishy treats while she is creating artwork behind-the-scenes at Penguins’ Rock.

The painting sessions are offered as an enrichment activity for the birds in the gallery back-up area. “Anything that is new and different is exciting for the animals. And painting is one activity that helps keep their minds active and healthy,” said Amy Graves, senior aviculturist at the Aquarium. “The door is always open during the painting sessions so the penguins don’t get stressed. They simply come and go as they please.” In doing so, the birds create interesting works of art as they waddle through non-toxic, washable paint. Unusual patterns are left by their feet and brushy tails.

Although not well known in fine art circles, Peep’s artwork will go in front of a global audience of potential bidders. On Tuesday, September 16, the Auction Network will conduct a live auction featuring artwork created by animals from zoos and aquariums accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). An original painting called, “Happy Feet” by Peep will be one of the numerous pieces up for sale during The Arts by Animal auction, which will be broadcast online in high-definition beginning with a special pre-show at 4 p.m. EDT, followed at 5 p.m. with the live auction.

This three-hour live auction is expected to draw a worldwide audience, and will feature appearances by wildlife celebrities Jack Hanna and Nigel Marven. People are encouraged to visit now to view the entire catalog, see video bios on the animal artist and even place proxy bids before the auction begins.

Peep’s work is framed side by side with a photo of the penguin creating the art. All of the proceeds from Peep’s art will help support the Tennessee Aquarium’s conservation and education initiatives.

The Tennessee Aquarium inspires wonder and appreciation for the natural world. Admission is $19.95 per adult and $12.95 per child, ages 3-12. Each ticket purchased helps support Aquarium conservation programs. The IMAX® 3D Theater is next door to the Aquarium. Ticket prices are $8.50 per adult and $6.00 per child. Aquarium/IMAX combo tickets are $25.95 for adults and $17.95 for children. Advance tickets may be purchased online at or by phone at 1-. The Aquarium, located on the banks of the Tennessee River in Chattanooga, is a non-profit organization. Open every day except Thanksgiving and Christmas, the Aquarium and IMAX are accessible to people with disabilities. Members enjoy unlimited visits and other benefits. Call 267-FISH to join.

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