Ranger Rick's Backyard Safari Opens at the Tennessee Aquarium

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Animals are the stars of Ranger Rick's Backyard Safari, a new gallery at the Tennessee Aquarium. Animal expert Karen O'Donnell introduces guests to a Eurasian eagle owl.

Ranger Rick's Backyard Safari Opens at the Tennessee Aquarium

May 5, 2011

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: Thom Benson (423) 785-3007

Chattanooga, Tenn. (May 5, 2011) – The Tennessee Aquarium is bringing together kids, nature and fun in a whole new way this summer with the opening of Ranger Rick®’s Backyard Safari. This unique experience, in partnership with National Wildlife Federation, will for the first time bring the pages of Ranger Rick magazine to life in a museum setting. The new exhibit will use live animal experiences to help families tune into, and appreciate, nature from their backyard to the backyards of creatures from around the world.

Visitors to Ranger Rick’s Backyard Safari will traverse three zones of up-close animal encounters. Guests will be thrilled to meet a Eurasian eagle owl and they’ll laugh at the amusing mimicry of Happy Jack, the talking Amazon parrot. Both the young and young at heart will smile as they’re introduced to additional birds, furry creatures and other animals with scales and shells.

National Wildlife Federation and Tennessee Aquarium Partnership

Celebrating 75 years of inspiring Americans to protect wildlife, National Wildlife Federation encourages families to Be Out There™ and raise happier, healthier children with a life-long love of nature. Through their award-winning children’s magazine, Ranger Rick, generations of readers have followed this wise raccoon and his friends to learn about wildlife around the world and in their own backyards. “You don’t just automatically have a love of nature,” said Aquarium senior aviculturist Amy Graves. “For many of us that love started when we began reading Ranger Rick. These magazines encourage natural exploration, curiosity and a desire to watch animals. I think this new gallery is going to be a great place to feed that desire for more knowledge.”

“We’re always looking for opportunities to connect people to nature,” said Kevin Coyle, Vice President of Education with National Wildlife Federation. “Featuring Ranger Rick and the Be Out There (www.beoutthere.org) program with the Tennessee Aquarium’s educators and animal programs adds a fun new element to our environmental outreach, encourages kids to learn about wildlife in their own communities and explore the natural world for themselves.”

NWF and the new exhibit teach that by providing the necessary ingredients for healthy, sustainable wildlife habitat, you may qualify to earn the distinction of being part of the National Wildlife Federation’s (NWF) Certified Wildlife Habitat™ program, one more way NWF encourages you to Be Out There.

Learn how to get started at: www.nwf.org/certify. Visit www.beoutthere.org for more inspiration and tools to make the outdoors a part of daily life.

Animals are the Stars of Ranger Rick’s Backyard Safari

Tennessee Aquarium animal experts are teaming up with Natural Encounters Incorporated (NEI), a premiere animal training and presentation company, to make Ranger Rick’s Backyard Safari a dazzling experience. NEI has produced animal programs and consulted at more than 80 zoos worldwide, including the Columbus Zoo, National Zoo and San Diego Zoo. “We train the animals to do species appropriate behavior in an insightful and personal close-up encounter,” said Steve Martin, NEI’s founder and president. “This gives everyone a better understanding about the individual animal and its wild counterparts. People have fun and begin to really care about these creatures. Once we get them to care, they want to know how they can help.”

The animals will be the safari’s stars, both the Aquarium’s dynamic collection and new birds coming in with Martin’s staff. “You have a lot of really nice, charismatic animals at the Tennessee Aquarium that I’m really excited about working with,” said Martin. “We’re going to knock the socks off guests with energetic programs that have an underlying conservation message.”

Graves says this new exhibit will help everyone develop an eye and ear for nature. She hopes visitors come to the Aquarium prepared for adventure and leave inspired to start exploring on their own and helping improve backyard habitat. “Ranger Rick’s Backyard Safari will help everyone tune into nature,” said Graves. “Whether going out at night to listen for tree frogs and owls, improving backyard habitat or searching for sea creatures on the next trip to the beach.”


The Tennessee Aquarium inspires wonder, appreciation and protection of water and all life that it sustains. Admission is $24.95 per adult and $14.95 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 $7.00 per child. Aquarium/IMAX combo tickets are $30.95 for adults and $20.95 for children. Excursions aboard the new River Gorge Explorer depart daily into “Tennessee’s Grand Canyon.” Cruise tickets are $29.00 per adult and $21.50 per child (3-12). Advance tickets may be purchased online at www.tnaqua.org or by phone at 1-800-262-0695. 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.

ONLINE press kits & downloadable images: http://www.tnaqua.org/News/Newsroom.aspx 

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