Gatlinburg wildfires: Thousands of animals left behind at Ripley’s Aquarium are safe

GATLINBURG, Tenn. — The over 10,000 animals workers were forced to leave behind at Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies are safe. 

That’s according to the aquarium itself, which was evacuated late Monday because of the wildfires that have hit Gatlinburg, Tennessee.

In a Facebook post, the aquarium said the following Tuesday afternoon:

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

WGRZ reports that Ryan DeSear, the operation’s regional manager, said:

“We would also like to thank our dedicated Aquarium team that stayed as late as possible before being forced to evacuate when fires approached the back of our building. We are grateful to have had the police escort our emergency team back into the Aquarium early this morning to check on the well-being of our animals. We have a team of Marine Biologists and Life Support Experts inside the Aquarium and are happy to report that the animals are safe.”

A county mayor in Tennessee says the aquarium  is intact and running on a generator.

Gatlinburg Fire Chief Greg Miller says in all 12 people have been injured in the wildfires in the Gatlinburg area, most with non-life-threatening injuries. He said they haven’t received any reports of missing people.

Miller said the fire spread Monday night by winds that at times exceeded 87 miles per hour.