Our Favorite Moments of 2013 – in Photos!

From the births of endangered African Penguins, to the arrival of new animals, to announcements of things to come, 2013 was filled with some pretty exciting moments! Here’s a roundup of our favorites, in photos:

Birth of Cassie

Birth of penguin chicks!

January 2013 marked the start of a regular penguin-palloza at Adventure Aquarium. The year started out with a “chirp” with the hatching of penguin chick Cassie, better known as “Casanova” to the legions of fans who tuned in on Facebook week after week to track her growth and progress. From her official debut to her public gender reveal party Cassie earned a place in all our hearts this year. In October, Cassie was soon joined by two new chicks: Pumpkin and Patch – a pair of adorable feathered siblings.  On January 11, Cassie turns the big “1” and we’re celebrating with her as she passes the torch to new penguin chicks Pumpkin and Patch, in our first-ever official “Penguin Celebrity Weekend,” providing our guests opportunities to meet these special penguins up-close.

Turtles Journey of Survival

Turtles, Turtles Everywhere!

During the winter of 2013, we were thrilled to host more than 20 turtle species for our Turtles: Journey of Survival exhibit. Thousands of people came out to meet these endearing creatures who had a big message to spread. The exhibit may have been a limited time opportunity, but the story continues, especially in part to the arrival of Tortuga (above), our Rehab and Release sea turtle. Tortuga’s story has and will continue to captivate visitors, especially into 2014 as Adventure Aquarium biologists work with him in efforts to prepare him for his eventual journey back into the ocean.

Mighty Mike

Mighty Mike Returns!

Spring marked the return of the “big guy” – the one an only Mighty Mike! A 14-foot, 800 pound reptile who also happens to be the largest alligator in the country outside of the state of Florida.  Guests flocked to see this endearing animal up close – literally! – as he locked eyes with those who dared to come within inches of this massive and majestic animal. Although Mighty Mike headed to our sister Aquarium in Kentucky – the Newport Aquarium, he will always hold a place in our hearts.

New animals - Yellow Boxfish

New animal arrivals

There were literally more new things to see and do every week at Adventure Aquarium! Throughout the year, we welcomed an array of new species, ranging from the tiny yet colorful and quirky – like the Yellow Boxfish above – to mysterious, schooling Menhaden in Shark Realm, to rarely-seen Silky sharks, to colorful, surface-dwelling dolphinfish and more. Our collection of 8,500 animals continues to grow bigger each and every day.

Frogs - Nature's Messengers

Frogs: Nature’s Messenger

As 2013 progressed, our team excitedly welcomed tens of colorful, patterned amphibian species as we readied for the new year and the opening of Frogs: Nature’s Messenger, arriving at Adventure Aquarium on January 17, 2014. We can’t wait to showcase these unbelievable, intricate species and tell you the important story they have to tell you; from tiny frogs the size of your fingertip to massive toads that mirror the width of your dinner plate. Frogs: Nature’s Messenger is invading Adventure Aquarium this winter.

Shark Fest Live

Shark Week: Live

It’s not a summer without sharks, and no one does it better than Adventure Aquarium, home to the largest collection of sharks on the East Coast. And in 2013 our annual celebration was bigger than ever, with the spotlight on our collection of more than 20 different species, and opportunities for our guests to get up close and personal with the finned favorites. Whether getting hands-on in our “Touch a Shark” exhibit, or nose-to-nose with them in our 40 foot Shark Tunnel, or even (gulp!) swimming with them in our behind-the-scenes Adventure, there was no better reason to leave the TV behind and experience them in person.

Gonzo and Up Close Animals

Up-Close Animal Arrivals

2013 was the year of the encounter animal at Adventure Aquarium. We were excited to welcome a cavalcade of “characters” in various forms – fuzzy, prickly and with armors of steel.  Critters like Gonzo, above – a Prehensile Tailed Porcupine – along with animals like Tank, a Southern Three-Banded Armadillo (the only species of armadillo that can completely roll itself into a ball!), Spike – an African Pygmy Hedgehog, and American alligator babies Melvin and Eugene, provided guests unexpected moments of glee with sporadic, randomly scheduled appearances inside the Aquarium. Giving our visitors another “beyond the glass” moment to connect with, and learn about these very special animals.

Cake Boss

Adventure Aquarium (and Mighty Mike!) on the Cake Boss

This summer we were excited to host TLC’s Cake Boss as they presented – get this – a LIFE-SIZED replica of Mighty Mike, all in tasty pastry form! The 14 foot alligator cake weighed over a 1,000 pounds, and was even fitted with mechanics that allowed the cake to move and snap its jaws. Making it almost a little too real to believe! The cake was on display at the Aquarium for a few days, but will live on in television history as it was featured in the season premiere of Cake Boss on December 30.

Arrival of Orinocos

Orinoco Crocodiles invade Adventure Aquarium

Speaking of new arrivals, in November we were so excited to welcome a pair of critically-endangered Orinoco Crocodiles from Dallas World Aquarium in Texas. These exceedingly rare reptiles originally hail from South America but will be on exhibit at Adventure Aquarium for the foreseeable future.  Not only do guests have the opportunity to get eye to eye with these beautiful crocodiles, they can also learn about efforts to protect a species so close to extinction that the IUCN estimates their wild population at only between 250 – 1500.

Hippo Haven

Hippo Haven Announcement

We had a BIG announcement in 2013 (especially fitting given the subject matter!) with the news that a newly-enhanced home for 4,000 pound Nile Hippos Button and Genny would be opening in 2014. Guests entering Adventure Aquarium’s Hippo Haven will find themselves in an unexpected world of fun and adventure.  This vibrant theatrical environment will immerse visitors in “a day in the life on an African river”, framing up a fascinating encounter with the hippos, Genny and Button. Guests will experience surprising moments of discovery making Hippo Haven a highly engaging, memorable experience.

BIG thanks to all our loyal visitors and fans. 2013 was a great year, but 2014 will be even GRANDER! We can’t wait to share the excitement with you in the New Year. 

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