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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — A proposed million-gallon saltwater aquarium in Sevier County could have potential for teaching and research, a University of Tennessee professor said Wednesday.

“It sounds really good,” said Dr. Gordon Burghardt, a psychologist whose studies include the behavior of animals in captivity. “I would be interested in it for teaching and research.”

 The aquarium, scheduled for completion in December, is a $40 million project of Ripley Entertainment of Orlando, Fla. The firm already operates three Sevier County attractions.

 “I would say a facility like this is going to be very concerned about its image and have the financial backing to do it right,” Burghardt said. “Done right, the animals will be happy and cared for well.”

 Burghardt was an editor of “The Well-Being of Animals in Zoo and Aquarium Sponsored Research,” published in 1996 by the Scientists Center for Animal Welfare, Washington, D.C.

 Saltwater aquariums tend to be more complicated to operate than freshwater facilities, Burghardt said.

 “With a million gallons, they are going to be making a lot of saltwater,” Burkhardt said. “They may plan on circulating it and filtering it for perpetuity, but you do have to exchange the water too, to keep from having a buildup of heavy metals in it.”

 The Ripley attractions in Sevier County are the Ripley’s Believe It Or Not Museum, Ripley’s Motion Master Theater and Guiness World of Records.

 Contact: Dr. Gordon Burghardt (423-974-6843)