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PGAV Destinations Heightens the Experiences at Georgia Aquarium


Related: PGAV Destinations Creates a First-of-Its-Kind Exhibit for the Saint Louis Zoo / Saint Louis Science Centre Announces New Exhibition Hall designed by PGAV Destinations / PGAV Destinations Inspires Connections with Animals at the Brookfield Zoo in Chicago

Designers Reveal Enhancements to the Georgia-Pacific Cold Water Quest Gallery

PGAV Destinations, a global leader in the planning and design of unique destinations, is pleased to announce their successful project at the Georgia Aquarium. The newly-renovated Georgia-Pacific Cold Water Quest Gallery features redesigned exhibits for an exciting immersion into the habitats of two of the Aquarium’s marquee animals: African penguins and Southern sea otters.

Guests enjoy twice the number of birds in the brand-new African penguin exhibit, with its innovative and engaging habitat. The birds’ new accommodations feature more than 25 nesting areas integrated into a naturalistic rockwork environment that encourages breeding behavior. A state-of-the-art lighting system mimics the natural light cycle, utilizing the technology of 44 independently controlled, high-output florescent and LED lights to follow the actual sunrise and sunset times for the northern hemisphere. This cycle provides animal enrichment while fostering health and husbandry.   

Children come face-to-face with their feathered favorites, with over 75 feet of new views into two pools through acrylic tunnels and pop-up windows. Children are invited to experience the crawl-through tunnels to see not only underwater activity but also the porpoising behavior of the animals, when they pick up speed swimming and actually jump out of the water right above the heads of viewers.

“From a design perspective, this exhibit retrofit allows for a larger habitat with flexibility to house more animals or even a new and different species in the future, ” states Emily Howard, PGAV Destinations Project Manager. “It also ties with an adjacent expansion, so the two designs work together to maximize the enhanced spaces.”

Equally exciting, the Aquarium’s beloved Southern sea otters are flourishing in their new home in the Georgia-Pacific Cold Water Quest Gallery. Their habitat was enhanced with additional deck space for trainer-animal interactions and unique viewing features, allowing guests to see the animals from various angles. Creative ‘clam cannons’ were added as environmental enrichment to feed the animals and complement additional training interactions. These ‘cannons’ can be used to remotely reinforce specific behaviors and encourage dynamic use of the habitat.

Extending beyond the public exhibit space, the expansion includes additions to back-of-house areas. Vastly enlarged dry and wet holding areas, tripled in size with more than 5, 000 gallons of water, will ensure the long-term care and husbandry of the otters, plus potential rescued animals in the future. The back-of-house is accessible to the animals through an otter ‘swim thru’ in which the back-of-house pool connects to the exhibit pool. Guests now have the opportunity to get a sneak-peek at caring for the animals behind-the-scenes, through viewing windows into renovated holding areas.

“The Georgia Aquarium strives to uphold world-class experiences for our guests and to maintain exceptional exhibit space for our animals, ” states Billy Hurley, Aquarium Senior Vice President and Chief Animal Officer. “The addition of dozens of birds and the return of our beloved sea otters, paired with a refreshing experience to a fan-favorite gallery, supports our mission of being the world’s most engaging aquarium.” 

About the Georgia Aquarium

The Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta, Georgia, is the world’s largest with more than eight million gallons of water and more aquatic life than any other aquarium. The mission of the Georgia Aquarium is to be an entertaining, educational and scientific institution featuring exhibits and programs of the highest standards, offering engaging and exciting guest experiences and promoting the conservation of aquatic biodiversity throughout the world. For additional information, visit

About PGAV Destinations

PGAV Destinations is a global leader in the planning and design of unique destinations. Now in its fifth decade, the practice has evolved to become the ideal destination-consulting partner, skilled at developing growth-oriented master plans and translating those plans into successful projects. No other firm offers such an integrated approach to destination planning.

PGAV’s key clients include industry leaders such as Delaware North, SeaWorld Parks and Entertainment, the Biltmore Companies, Bass Pro Shops, Ameristar Casinos, Universal Studios, The Gettysburg Foundation, Niagara Parks Commission, The National Aviary, and many others. Recent assignments include planning and design at many of the world’s “must see” destinations, including the Grand Canyon, Biltmore Estate, Kennedy Space Center, Hearst Castle, the Georgia Aquarium, the Hoover Dam, and SeaWorld Adventure Parks.

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