New Operating Partnership Plan Signed for Flint RiverQuarium, Thronateeska and Chehaw

Staff Report From Albany CEO

Wednesday, January 23rd, 2019

Thronateeska Heritage Center inspires wonder and stimulates exploration of science and south Georgia’s history by providing a dynamic learning experience through an interactive science center and museum. Thronateeska’s campus includes the History Museum, Wetherbee Planetarium and Science Museum, administrative offices, Tift Warehouse, and railroad exhibit. Thronateeska has been the keeper of Albany’s history since 1974, and its permanent collections include a wide variety of objects, including Native American artifacts; natural science displays of animals, shells, rocks and fossils; home furnishings and textiles; various tools and equipment; and other material culture. Traveling and temporary exhibits occupy the five museum galleries.

Founded in 1937, Chehaw covers nearly 800 acres and offers visitors a wide variety of outdoor experiences. The Zoo at Chehaw, originally designed and supervised by Albany native Jim Fowler, host of the popular television show Wild Kingdom, is home to more than 240 specimens representing over 130 different native and exotic species.  Guests can enjoy seeing animals in spacious, natural habitats and learning about them through regularly scheduled, interactive programs and feedings. Guests to the Park also can enjoy RV, tent, and cabin camping, one of the largest play parks in South Georgia, miles of biking, hiking, and horse trails, an 18-hole disc golf course, a new RC car track, renovated BMX track, access to fishing and picnic areas, African Veldt Safari Ride, Wiregrass Express Train Ride, children’s camps, unique special events, and more.

Chehaw is driven by its mission of inspiring people to connect with nature and encouraging conservation action through positive recreational and educational experiences.

Mission Statement: To promote the education and awareness of water and its value.

Opened in September 2004, the Flint RiverQuarium, a one-of-kind adventure, features a unique blue hole spring with more than 120 fascinating creatures. Located on the banks of the Flint River, the RiverQuarium tells the story of the Flint River and the blue hole springs that helped create it. Visitors can experience the unique ecosystems of the Flint River watershed through a number of interactive exhibits featuring more than 100 species of aquatic life.  The Cypress Creek aviary gives visitors a close-up look at a variety of birds, both those indigenous to the Flint River watershed as well as migratory birds that use the Flint River as a flyway. Guests can also enjoy nature-based films in the large-format Imagination Theater and a variety of onging programs, including dive shows, alligator feeding, live animal presentations, and more.


How it will work


To enhance mission fulfillment and improve certain administrative functions of the three organizations


A means of achieving operating efficiencies and maximizing use of limited resources

The harnessing of ideas and energies of three organizations which share similar goals and aspirations


The complete merger of three organizations into one new entity

The co-merging of operating, capital and endowment assets

The loss of the three organizations’ separate identities


The synergy results in greater operating efficiencies and cost containment.

Smart growth means enhanced opportunities for prosperity.

Community leaders and the organizations’ supporters value the pro-active effort to streamline operations and merge scarce resources.

End users benefit from consolidated programs and resources.

Three organizations have a history of successful joint programmatic efforts.