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Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Gatlinburg Aquarium in the Path of Wildfire

Natural disasters pose some of the greatest threats to captive animal collections and those who care for them.  In some cases, there are steps that caretakers can take to reduce the risk to the animals.  During the recent hurricane, for example, many of the Florida zoos bustled their animals into secure shelters, while staff bunked down next to them to provide care during the storm.

That's an option that exists with zoo animals.  It's a heck of a lot harder with aquariums.

Currently, Tennessee if being threatened with a series of wildfires.  Thankfully no human life has been lost so far, but the damage has been extensive, and it isn't over yet.  Among the structures in the path of the flames is Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies in Gatlinburg, Tennessee.

Aquarium animals can't be evacuated with the ease of zoo animals (to the extent that moving zoo animals is easy).  They are reliant upon their life support systems, and it's not like you can plop a fish in a bucket of water and rush it away to safety.  That and the fact that there are lots of fish...

The staff at the aquarium have been force-evacuated to get them out of harm's way.  The aquarium is outfitted with remote monitoring, allowing staff to ascertain that, as of now, anyway, the building is okay and that power is working - which means that pumps and filters are working.  Rain is reported for the area, so hopefully the fires will be contained and extinguished soon.

Until then, best wishes and thoughts to the Aquarium of the Smokies.

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