Atlanta Life and Culture

The AJC Features Team spotlights arts previews, reviews, profiles, news features and breaking news on Atlanta's cultural and life scene.

Tennessee Aquarium tracking spring breakers; Sheep to Shawl at History Center


Tennessee Aquarium tracking spring breakers

Just in time to bait spring breakers, Chattanooga’s Tennessee Aquarium has opened a new exhibit, “Alligator Bayou,” and introduced a “High-Tech Animal Tracker” program.

Thirteen American Alligators silently patrol the waters of the attraction's gator-filled swamp. From a Cajun shack in the re-imagined exhibit, alligator experts will emerge at different times daily to feed the hungry reptiles — as well as to feed visitors’ hunger for more information about these enigmatic animals.

Guests to "Alligator Bayou" will learn additionally about our cultural connections to wetlands and meet other creatures that depend upon these swampy ecosystems. A new presentation station will afford visitors more opportunities to come in close contact with many wetland creatures. With more room for the animals to move around, it’s a good spot from which to observe a downy owl or North America’s only marsupial – the Virginia opossum.

Meanwhile, any young citizen scientist can participate in the animal-tracker program, helping observe and study more than a dozen aquarium animals identified as needing additional research. To prepare to participate in this "mobile-optimized hunt," download the free Tennessee Aquarium app from Google Play or the iTunes Store, then enable Bluetooth connectivity and location services in your mobile device settings. As kids approach the habitats of the tagged animals, they will receive a message with their assigned role, for which they'll receive a badge and certificate.

$26.95, adults; $16.95, ages 3-12. 1-800-262-0695,


  • According to researchers at Florida State University, the bite force of a 13-foot American Alligator is more than 2,900 pounds per square inch. However, the muscles that open a gator’s mouth are relatively weak. So holding the powerful jaws shut is much easier than trying to keep them from biting down.
  • Alligators have 75 to 80 teeth at one time. As they wear down, they are replaced. One alligator may replace all of its teeth up to 50 times. That’s as many as 4,000 teeth during its lifetime.
  • Most reptiles have 3-chambered hearts, but the heart of alligators (and all crocodilians) has four chambers, a trait shared with mammals and birds.
  • Alligators are ectothermic. They must rely on external sources of heat to regulate their body temperature. To warm up, they bask in the sun or move into warmer water. Gators prefer summer temperatures and become dormant if the temperature drops below 55 degrees F. Source: Tennessee Aquarium.

* Source: Tennessee Aquarium


Good golly, it’s time for History Center shearing

Since arriving at the Atlanta History Center nearly a year ago, the little Angora goat named Little Richard has impressed staff and visitors with his, um, tutti-frutti personality.

Taking long walks around the campus with historic farmer Brett Bannor, he’s shown affection for people, jumping up on barrels and, most of all, peanuts.

During the annual family program Sheep to Shawl, 10:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Saturday, he’ll be among the center’s barnyard critters receiving a spring shearing. It will be only the second hair appointment for the nearly year-old natural-born entertainer.

In addition to finding out all about the yarn and cloth-making process, visitors can enjoy bluegrass music, folk tales and talks about Southern food traditions, watch crafts demonstrations and partake of a petting zoo. At 10:45 a.m. and 12:15 and 1:45 p.m. there will be “Meet the Past” theater performances of “Clay: Palm to Earth,” the story of enslaved South Carolina folk potter David Drake.

Free with museum admission. 130 W. Paces Ferry Road N.W., Atlanta. 404-814-4000, www.atlantahistory

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The AJC Features Team spotlights arts previews, reviews, profiles, news features and breaking news on Atlanta's cultural and life scene.