GATLINBURG, Tenn. — Red carpets are reserved for the biggest stars, and at Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies celebrities strutted their stuff dressed in their fanciest tuxedos.
The aquarium welcomed four South African penguins from Zoo Knoxville on Tuesday with 'Welcome Home' signs and cheers from the staff.
"I'm excited for the penguins to start their journey, but I'm sad they're leaving us. For the last six years, I've worked with them. It's been amazing. Every day they make me happy," Zoo Keeper Nikki Edwards said.
The penguins will join more than three dozen other penguins in the aquarium's colony, and Regional General Manager Ryan Desear said they take great care to make the exhibit as similar to penguin's natural habitat as possible.
"We have focused heavily on making this habitat perfect for our animals. It's so important for us to have a place where the penguins can play in a natural environment," Desear said. "For example, our lighting has done so much that it's perfectly attuned to South African lighting. The habitat is made for that. We have taken every small detail into account for the safety of our birds. "
Zoo Knoxville made the decision to relocate the penguins to Ripley's as they begin a major construction project near their habitat.