TN Aquarium Threatened by Fire, Animals Left Inside

In the argument over keeping wild animals captive for public display and corporate profit, here’s one for the CON side of the ledger:  More than 10,500 animals at the Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies are on their own after staff was forced to evacuate when the Gatlinburg wildfire came within 50 feet of the structure last night.  At this time, the building is still standing and security webcams are reportedly still broadcasting.  The aquarium has generators to maintain power so the animals can survive, at least until the fuel runs out.  But there is no one there to feed, medicate or assist any animals in need.

Some of the animals at this aquarium:  penguins, stingrays, sea turtles, sharks, octopuses and clownfish.  A live penguin cam, offered on the Ripley website, says “video unavailable” this morning.  I guess the corporation doesn’t want a live internet feed of whatever may happen to the penguins.

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16 Comments

  1. moonvine

     /  November 29, 2016

    Your link now states “For the safety of our employees and guests, all of our Attractions will remain closed until the evacuation has lifted. We have a team of Marine Biologists and Life Support Experts inside the Aquarium and are happy to report that the animals are safe.”
    Good news:)

    Reply
  2. That’s good news

    Reply
  3. moonvine

     /  November 29, 2016

    And I guess it is a pro, since if there is a wildfire in the wild, there are neither marine biologists nor life support expertis to help the animals.

    Reply
    • If the penguins, clownfish et al were in the wild, they would presumably not be threatened by wildfire since the ocean tends to have that sort of effect. But in theory, if they were threatened by fire in the wild, they could at least swim away, as opposed to being locked in their displays.

      Reply
      • moonvine

         /  December 2, 2016

        My point was not that these particular breeds of animal would be threatened by wildfire in the wild, it’s the massive suffering and death of wildlife in the affected area, none of which has marine biologists or life support available to them. It is terribly sad.

  4. Adrianne Mock

     /  November 29, 2016

    The video feed is down because the transmission towers were most likely destroyed in the fires (which are now believed to be arson).
    Several of the staff stayed behind to make sure their animsls would be safe.
    IF ANYONE believes that the keepers would willingly abandon their charges then they need to be educated.
    Some staff were ORDERED to evacuate.
    Best guess is that emergency generators will keep tank filtration etc working until fuel runs out.

    Shame on any of you who believe that the caretakers didn’t care or ran away. They love their animals as much as you love your pets

    Reply
  5. mikken

     /  November 29, 2016

    Except that we’ve seen emergency responders force people away from homes and pets in emergencies. I could see where even if staff wanted to stay, they might not be permitted to do so.

    Glad someone is now on site.

    Reply
  6. Nancy

     /  November 29, 2016

    Just saw this video statement from aquarium’s GM that all is fine at the aquarium. Hope to goodness the rain helps extinguish the fires in Gatlinburg, TN. http://knoxne.ws/2gEYosn

    Reply
  7. I am not sure where this sentiment was picked up from but I haven’t read (or written) anything here that cast any aspersions on the staff for leaving. The words I used in the post were “staff was forced to evacuate” which I think is pretty clear. And after reading half a dozen articles on this story this morning, I chose one to link to that included this sentence:

    “They were (forced to evacuate). To them, every animal has a name. You don’t give that up,” DeSear said.

    I did that intentionally, in hopes of avoiding any sort of misunderstanding such as the one that apparently developed anyway. I’m disappointed.

    Reply
  8. Cathy Woods Shaw

     /  November 29, 2016

    Thanks for the update. I am sure that all the staff of the aquarium are as concerned for the safety of the animals as we are. I did hear the aquarium manager in a television interview this morning. His intentions were to get back in as soon as possible to check on the animals. Unfortunately disasters happen but the safety of the inhabitants are of utmost importance. I feel sure that they are doing all possible to protect them!

    Reply
  9. Adrianne Mock

     /  November 29, 2016

    Latest update states that all the animals are safe

    Reply
  10. Tina Clark

     /  November 30, 2016

    I’m glad they are safe, but they never should have been in that captive situation to begin with.

    Reply

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