Gatlinburg aquarium: 'Animals are safe' after devastating Tennessee wildfires


Wildfires fueled by high winds roared through parts of the Great Smoky Mountains, burning the doorstep of the Dollywood theme park, destroying a resort and chasing thousands of people from their homes. In its ashy wake were scorched cars and buildings, and soot-covered debris covered in a smoky haze, The Associated Press reported.

>> PREVIOUS STORY: Gatlinburg wildfire threatens Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies; employees forced to abandon building

But Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies posted a hopeful update Tuesday afternoon: All its animals are safe.

"For the safety of our employees and guests, all of our Attractions will remain closed until the evacuation has lifted," the property said in a Facebook post. "We have a team of Marine Biologists and Life Support Experts inside the Aquarium and are happy to report that the animals are safe."

>> Read the post here

For the safety of our employees and guests, all of our Attractions will remain closed until the evacuation has lifted....

Posted by Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies on Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Ryan DeSear, general manager of the aquarium, also spoke to the Knoxville News-Sentinel

"All is fine here at Ripley's Aquarium. Obviously, the city has had a lot of problems, and it has been very hard for us to get into this building, but all the animals are fine. Life support's working great, and the building is coming along just fine, so we're very positive moving forward that we're not going to have any issues."

He added, "We're very grateful, obviously, to all the people that have been working these fires. ... All is good. We got very lucky here at the aquarium, and we look forward to getting back to business as usual when the time comes."

>> Watch the video here

Earlier reports were harrowing.

>> PREVIOUS STORY: Dollywood, other Tennessee tourist destinations evacuated due to wildfires

“We are still not allowed into the city at this time,” the property posted as flamed crept closer to Gatlinburg. “I know our Biologists are trying to get into the city as quickly as they can. We will post updates as soon as we have them.”

>> Read more trending stories

The aquarium also shared DeSear's video showing the town under smoky siege:

Arsonists need to go to prison for a long time

Posted by Ryan DeSear on Monday, November 28, 2016

– The Cox Media Group National Content Desk contributed to this report.


Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Nation & World

Why isn't the Google's art selfie feature available in two states?
Why isn't the Google's art selfie feature available in two states?

Google’s new Arts & Culture App has been insanely popular over the last week -- and no, it’s not because people are wanting to brush up on their art history skills (though it’s good for that, too). It’s because there’s a hilarious feature where you can upload a photo of yourself and the app will match your face with a...
Boston University study finds repeated hits to the head can cause CTE, without concussions
Boston University study finds repeated hits to the head can cause CTE, without concussions

Kimberly Archie was pleased to hear about the new findings on chronic brain injuries released by Boston University on Thursday.  Doctors at BU have found constant hits to young athletes – even without concussions – cause Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy, or CTE.  Archie says this better explains how her son died. “I...
3-month-old girl exposed to heroin, taken to hospital
3-month-old girl exposed to heroin, taken to hospital

Police arrested a woman after they say she exposed her baby to fentanyl. But she told investigators that's not the drug she thought she was using. The baby had to be flown to Children's Hospital from Uniontown. Crystal Cumberland is in jail and facing charges including aggravated assault and endangering the welfare of a child. According to Pennsylvania...
Dog mauls 4-year-old girl, police say
Dog mauls 4-year-old girl, police say

A 4-year-old girl is recovering at a local hospital after she was mauled by a family friend’s dog, police said.  The attack happened Thursday afternoon at the Meadows Mobile Home Park in Melbourne, police said. Police said the girl's mother dropped the girl off to be watched by a family friend and another woman. The family friend left and...
Is Boston parking space worth $45,000?
Is Boston parking space worth $45,000?

A piece of real estate about the size of a coffin comes with a drop-dead price in Brookline.  It’s nearly $45,000 for a parking spot, but snow removal is extra. Realtor.com shows the spot, off Addington Road, hit the market in November for $15,000 more than it costs now.  In Brookline, parking is at a premium. But the spot isn&rsquo...
More Stories