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Just For Kids    |    for Kids Only

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published on 06/04/2007

The Surf’s always up at “Penguins’ Rock”

Communications Manager Tennessee Aquarium & IMAX Theater

“Penguins’ Rock” at the Tennessee Aquarium may be a long way from Shiverpool, Antarctica, but the gentoos and macaronis act like they’re the stars of Sony Pictures’ new film “Surf’s Up.” That’s because a special wave machine creates ocean-like swells the penguins really dig.

In the wild penguins use waves to help propel their bodies out of the water and onto the rocky coastlines of the sub-Antarctic islands they call home. There is evidence gentoo penguins in particular don’t just surf to avoid predators or gain momentum. Wildlife photographer Andy Rouse photographed gentoo penguins in the Falkland Islands repeatedly surfing, then waddling back down the beach only to surf back in again. His incredible images can be seen in the book “Penguin Life.”

To see penguins surfing closer to home, check out the action at the Tennessee Aquarium. “Making the water dynamic with waves is great enrichment for the penguins. It’s a more natural environment for the birds and they seem to really enjoy it,” says aquarium director of husbandry and operations Jackson Andrews.

Penguin keeper Amy Graves says these little surfer girls and boys love catching a wave. “When the wave machine comes on, everybody gets excited and gets in the pool because it’s something fun and different,” says Graves. “They jump in at one end, swim through the waves to the other end, jump out and run back to the other end to surf again. Just like kids.”

While Cody Maverick and Tank are thrilling theater goers with their animated surfing skills on Pen Gu Island this summer, thousands will be captivated by the real deal in Chattanooga. Some of the best surfers in the world will be hanging six at “Penguins’ Rock.” “It’s amazing how they can shoot out of the water like little rockets!” says Graves.

Surfing penguins? Dude, that’s sweet!

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