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flickr/Ben M
flickr/Ben M
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AAA Editor Notes
Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies is just off the Parkway at 88 River Rd. Boasting 100,000 square feet, the facility houses exotic aquatic life from around the world. Galleries include a simulated tropical rain forest, home to poisonous dart frogs; a coral reef complete with clown triggerfish and regal blue tang; and Stingray Bay, where visitors can touch cownose, spotted eagle and southern stingray. Touch Jellies is one of the Discovery Center's new exhibits where guests can interact with moon jellies.

On display are thousands of exotic sea creatures, including thousands of tropical fish, a giant octopus, sea turtle and giant spider crabs. A submerged acrylic tunnel in the shark lagoon lets visitors get close to 11-foot-long sharks and other ocean predators via a moving glide path. The Penguin Playhouse features African black-footed penguins in an indoor/outdoor habitat featuring clear underwater tunnels for visitors to view the whimsical birds.

Animal encounter programs, glass-bottomed boat rides and behind-the-scenes tours are offered.

Time: Allow 2 hours, 30 minutes minimum.

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