The Tennessee Aquarium announced today a redesign of the popular Cove Forest Exhibit, which will include additional otters and viewing areas.
The project should be complete by the spring of 2014.
According to a statement from the Tennessee Aquarium, North American river otters have been one of the top attractions for more than 20 years.
Jackson Andrews is the aquarium’s director of husbandry and operations. He said people have wanted this type of exhibit for years.
"A dramatic otter exhibit is something people have really wanted," he said. "If you go through the Cove Forest and the otters are out scampering around and swimming, guests are delighted with the experience ... but the impact is not the same if the otters are asleep."
Four new otters will be added to the exhibit, bringing the total number to six. This will allow optimal viewing times to spread throughout the day. While one group is napping, the others can play in the viewing area.
The redesign for the exhibit will give the otters a chance to lope along a multi-tiered landscape.
"We're going to create an exhibit that's a more enriching environment for the otters, giving them more opportunities to show off their boisterous sides," Andrews said. "There's more shoreline, so they can jump in and out of the water and playfully tussle with one another."
Andrews also said the exhibit will feature waterfalls, pools and opportunities for digging.
But it’s not just the otters that benefit from the expansion. Aquarium guests can expect three times the viewing area, which will now include opportunities for face-to-face interactions.
"We've spent a lot of time considering ways to maximize the existing space to enhance sightlines and viewing angles," Andrews said. "We will nearly triple the length of the viewing panels, so more guests will be able to see the otters simultaneously."
Currently, the otters are "on vacation" to meet their new Cove Forest neighbors at another facility.
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