Located in Gatlinburg, Tennessee, the Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies has more than 10,000 exotic sea creatures from 250 different species living in this state-of-the-art park. Visitors will find unique experiences, fun activities, and educational opportunities at every turn.
The mission of the Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies is to provide a world-class aquatic facility that fosters education, conservation, and research for visitors of all ages while providing high quality entertainment and activities.
Ocean Realm: This large tank is representative of sea life in the open ocean. It has a wide variety of fish and coral species, including the weedy scorpionfish, the spotted garden eel, and the Flounder. Visitors can witness how some fish species gather into a school to swim together and look like one large fish to ward off predators. It is truly a spectacular sight!
Shark Lagoon: A 340-foot-long see-through underwater tunnel allows visitors to travel under the sea without getting wet! They can walk along the winding path and get up-close and personal with a wide variety of fish, sea turtles, and some very large sharks!
Touch a Ray Bay at Stingray Bay: A shallow lagoon allows visitors to reach in and touch the friendly smooth-skinned rays as they glide by. This lagoon is also home to the bonnethead shark and the leopard shark for visitors to see up-close, although they are warned not to touch. The cownose ray, the spotted eagle ray, and southern stingrays are also residents of Stingray Bay.
Tropical Rainforest: This exhibit has a variety of Amazonian and other tropical species for visitors to discover. Species including the ferocious piranha, the four-eyed anableps, the dangerously beautiful poisonous dart frog, and one of the largest fresh water fish in the world, the arapaima, are all residing in this exhibit.
Coral Reef: This exotic and colorful exhibit is representative of the coral reefs from the Indo-Pacific Ocean. Many salt water favorites reside in this exhibit, including the clownfish, the regal blue tang, the butterflyfish, and the clown triggerfish.
Discovery Center: This hands-on exhibit features pufferfish and horseshoe crabs for visitors to interact with. Children can solve puzzles and participate in special classes and specialized programs aimed at increasing their knowledge and respect for ocean life.
Gallery of the Seas: This exhibit features some of the most beautiful and unusual wildlife that the ocean has to offer. Species such as the cuttlefish, the lionfish, the Japanese spider crab, the scorpionfish, and even one of nature’s most unbelievable works of art – the octopus – are all on display in this exhibit.
Penguin Playhouse: This exhibit is one giant adorable playground for penguins. Visitors can see the penguins up close as they crawl through clear underwater tunnels and even get nose-to-beak at the penguin’s private beach.
Penguin Paintings & Encounter: Visitors can interact with adorable penguins up-close and personal at the Penguin Encounter. Visitors can learn from the aquarium staff experts, pet a penguin, and even leave with a souvenir. The Penguin Painting Experience allows visitors to help an African penguin paint a masterpiece and take the artwork home.
Splash with the Stingrays: If petting the stingrays in the small lagoon at Ray Bay isn’t enough excitement for visitors, they can bring their bathing suits and get into the water with the stingrays.
Behind-the-Scenes Tour: Aquarium staff will lead visitors through the exhibits and even take them through doors marked “Staff Only”. Visitors on this tour can see life-support rooms and the control center where water quality is monitored and food is prepared. Learn about how much work it takes to keep all of the animals at the aquarium happy and healthy.
There are a variety of programs available at the aquarium, including camps and sleepovers, field trips, group tours, homeschool programs, scouts, and conservation programs.
The summer camps are offered daily and provide campers with educational activities and even a sleepover with the sharks! After a day filled with activities, including a dive show and a scavenger hunt, campers will fall asleep in the underwater tunnel in the shark exhibit.
Educational group tours, home school programs, and field trips are all aimed at fostering education and instilling a deep respect for ocean life. Scout troops are also welcome to visit the aquarium and participate in specialized programs to foster their skills and earn merit badges.
Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies, 88 River Rd, Gatlinburg, TN 37738, Phone: 865-430-8808
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