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The rocky, windswept and remote South Georgia Island lies more than 1,000 miles east of the tip of South America. Massive storms frequently roll through this region whipping the Southern Ocean into one of the angriest seas on Earth.
In spite of the harsh conditions, this place is a remarkable oasis of life – including one amazing colony of King Penguins. Audiences will feel as though they’re surrounded by these majestic birds when Penguins 3D hits the giant screen at the Tennessee Aquarium IMAX Theater beginning on Friday, November 29th.
Imagine all of the residents of Chattanooga, Nashville and Knoxville gathered shoulder to shoulder in one location. If current census figures are correct, that’s how many people it would take to equal the population of King Penguins that congregate at South Georgia’s “Penguin City” each year. According to a recent paper published in Antarctic Science, there are 450,000 breeding pairs of King Penguins in this one relatively small spot. Each couple is there to try and raise the next generation.
This is where the storyline of Penguins 3D begins. A young King Penguin returns to his birthplace after spending three years at sea. Surrounded by the lush, low-lying vegetation and snow covered peaks, our hero searches for a mate among the bustling crowds of nearly one million identical-looking birds. Along the way, this male must contend with brawling elephant seals and grumpy fur seals that make daily shore landings quite challenging.
Audiences will be truly astounded at how chicks and parents can recognize individual vocalizations among an almost deafening cacophony of raucous calling. This is just one phenomenal aspect of King Penguin life according to Sir David Attenborough, the film’s writer and narrator. “It takes the young chick 18 months to develop the swimsuit of feathers which lets it go to sea,” Attenborough told Empire magazine. “It has to endure all the winter and the next spring and then some.” (That’s a long time compared to ten weeks – the time it took the Tennessee Aquarium’s new Gentoo Penguin chicks to grow large enough to go swimming for the first time at Penguins’ Rock.)
Attenborough is the world’s leading natural history broadcaster. His distinguished career in television spans more than fifty years. He has traveled from Pole to Pole in his quest to bring nature closer to humans. Penguins 3D may have been the most challenging, yet most rewarding project. “Filming wildlife in the harsh sub-Antarctic conditions, using vast, ungainly, highly sensitive 3D equipment is frustrating with knobs on,” said Attenborough. “The difficulties were huge, but the rewards are huge too. With 3D you can convey the reality of what’s in front of the camera in a much more powerful way than ever before.”
Fortunately penguins aren’t shy birds. Even with four people lugging an IMAX camera that Attenborough called a “whopping great beast,” the animals carried on with the business of being parents. “Penguins are big, colorful characters,” said Attenborough. “They are irresistibly comic.”
Audiences will also marvel at the unique habitat of this astonishing sub-Antarctic island. Among some of the native species featured in the film are stately Wandering Albatross, fearsome Leopard Seals and predatory Giant Petrels. “South Georgia is one of the most extraordinary and least appreciated places for wildlife in the world,” said Attenborough. “Whilst it may be remote, it is far from barren. It bears witness to some of the most spectacular sights in the natural world.”
Penguins 3D, presented locally by High Point Climbing and Fitness, is rated G with a running time of 40 minutes.
Penguins 3D launches at the Tennessee Aquarium IMAX on “Black & White” Friday, November 29th. Go to www.tnaqua.org/IMAX for showtimes and to purchase tickets online.
See the official Penguins 3D trailer here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Gvs6ADligY&feature=youtu.be