Preparing A Feast For The Beasts At The Tennessee Aquarium

Monday, November 19, 2012 - by Thom Benson
Chattanooga Chuck, the Tennessee Aquarium’s groundhog, enjoys a traditional Thanksgiving treat – sweet potatoes.
Chattanooga Chuck, the Tennessee Aquarium’s groundhog, enjoys a traditional Thanksgiving treat – sweet potatoes.
- photo by Tennessee Aquarium

Imagine preparing a huge Thanksgiving feast every day. Staff and volunteers at the Tennessee Aquarium create specialized diets for more than 10,000 animals daily. There are two kitchens where Aquarium “chefs” spend long hours bringing all of the ingredients together. Most of the food is restaurant quality, and in some cases, it’s enhanced with nutritional supplements to ensure each animal receives a varied and well-balanced diet.

Whether it’s giant stingrays from Australia or a veggie loving green sea turtle, animal experts provide flavorful dishes that are tailored for each species.

Like many of you, Chattanooga Chuck - the Aquarium’s groundhog - loves sweet potatoes. But haute cuisine for fish, frogs and birds is much different than what you’d see alongside turkey, stuffing and pumpkin pie.

The numbers for the Aquarium’s daily gourmet feast for the beasts are rather staggering. Seahorses for example, are fed three times each day. Collectively, they eat more than 2 million tiny shrimp each year.

Here’s a sample of what’s on the Aquarium’s annual grocery list:

832,000 meal worms for birds

5,616 heads of romaine lettuce for turtles and fish

5,184 pounds of squid for sharks and other fish

40,000 crickets for frogs, salamanders and newts

10,800 pounds of capelin fish for penguins

3,000 night crawlers for turtles and amphibians

2,000 shrimp for cuttlefish

681 pounds of grapes and 200 pounds of macadamia nuts for the macaws

1,056 oranges for butterflies

More than 5,000 mice and rats for reptiles and owls

The Aquarium is thankful for the dedicated volunteers who help prepare food and feed the animals throughout the year. If you’d like to learn more about animal care and help feed some of the animals, the Aquarium offers a Backstage Pass experience which allows guests an opportunity to go behind the scenes. http://www.tnaqua.org/PlanYourVisit/BackstagePass.aspx


Blue Ridge Scenic Railway Excursion To Benefit Kennesaw Museum Foundation, Southern Museum

The  Blue Ridge Scenic Railway and the Kennesaw Museum Foundation are teaming up to raise money in support of the Southern Museum of Civil War & Locomotive History. Proceeds from the Blue Ridge Scenic Railway excursion on  Saturday, March 28 , will benefit the museum ’s educational programs.   The excursion departs downtown ... (click for more)

Day Out With Thomas: The Celebration Tour 2015 Visits The Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum

Preschoolers will get the thrill of their lives when Thomas the Tank Engine steams across the country this year into Chattanooga for  Day Out with Thomas: The Celebration Tour 2015.  The event, which takes place on  April 25 and 26, and May 2 , 3 and 9, will be hosted by the Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum and presented by HIT Entertainment.   ... (click for more)

Signal Council, Residents Concerned About Unsafe Driving En Route To Schools

The town council of Signal Mountain is dealing with a traffic problem caused by increased traffic to and from Signal Mountain Middle High School and Nolan Elementary. Mayor Dick Gee said, “This is a tough issue that we wouldn’t have to deal with if everyone would drive responsibly.” The main concern is for safety and in November the council agreed to try to fix the problem by ... (click for more)

88-Year-Old Woman In Bradley County Severely Burned After Going Back In Burning House For Pets

Two people were injured in a house fire in Bradley County on Friday.   Shortly before noon, Bradley County EMS responded to a reported house fire on Hancock Road.   Two ambulances and a shift commander responded. Initial reports were that there were two people injured. When EMS crews arrived, Bradley County firefighters were performing resuscitative ... (click for more)

We Ought To Pay Our Own Way

The government is too big. It has never been bigger - by any measure. It spends more money than any other single actor in our society. From Blue Rhinos to providing telecommunications services, our government knows no bounds. We’ve gone from a free enterprise system to a public enterprise system.  I'm not an artist. I'm not terribly tech savvy. The part of government that ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: The Secret Train Ride

It was during Christmas of 2003 when Bennett Levin and his wife found themselves talking and worrying about the wounded soldiers at the Walter Reed Military Hospital in Bethesda, Md., and at the nearby Bethesda Naval Hospital. Their wish was that they could do something meaningful, something really grand, for the soldiers who had lost limbs, their eyesight, and far worse. As ... (click for more)