Perhaps Chattanooga’s nickname should be changed from the Scenic City to the Animal City.
As one reptile-focused conference wrapped up, a baby penguin shook its feathers for the first time publicly and the countdown began for a look at local giant catfish on the National Geographic Channel.
This week, the Chattanooga Zoo hosted more than 85 biologists, conservationists, researchers and zoologists for the sixth biennial Hellbender Symposium. The salamander is native to a large swath of the eastern U.S. but has been classified as extinct or endangered in many areas since 1981.
The conference, which was a joint venture with Lee University and the Nashville Zoo, served as a continuation of the zoo’s fieldwork with local populations and habitats.
Specialists hailing from all around the globe participated in seminars on disease, stressors, genetics and habitat conservation.
Meanwhile, the Tennessee Aquarium debuted its first penguin to hatch this season. The yet-to-be named macaroni chick hatched in late May and is now on display in an acrylic playpen exhibit next to the Penguin Rock Exhibit.
The aquarium penguin keepers reported that parents Sweet Pea and Merlin have taken to their parenting role without trouble. In fact, though the chick is now too big to easily fit underneath his father’s chin, the pair still maintains a habit of cuddling.
The penguin, whose sex will be determined soon via a blood test, may not be the only chick of the huddle: The current egg count is composed of five eggs and two couples possibly laying eggs.
The television show follows biologist and National Geographic Fellow Zeb Hogan as he travels the world, parsing through legend to find the facts about larger-than-life fish.
The first episode chronicles his exploration of giant catfish, specifically those the size of Volkswagens.
Though Hogan will spend the majority of his time with a Mississippi fisherman actually attempting to catch one of the giants, the episode will also include footage of the scientist at the aquarium discussing the River Giants Exhibit.
Hogan also took a dip in the tank with the blue catfish native to the Tennessee River.
For next week’s program, Comcast subscribers can tune into Channel 108. DirecTV households can tune into Channel 276. EPB customers can tune into Channel 367.