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A raccoon pops his head out of a tree as dusk turns to evening. (Archipelago Films Photo)

With eyes glued to phones, computers and TV screens, people often fail to look up and appreciate Mother Nature's beauty and the animal species living right in their backyards.

That relationship between people and the animals with whom they share their world is the focus of "The Wild Around You 3D: Backyard Wilderness," the new movie opening on Friday, March 16, in the Tennessee Aquarium IMAX 3D Theater.

The film's premiere will air at 5:30 p.m. Subsequent screenings will be daily at 11 a.m., 1, 3 and 5 p.m.

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Coyote pups search for water. (Archipelago Films Photo)

"The Wild Around You 3D: Backyard Wilderness" centers on a modern suburban family and the animals that live in and near their home. The nearby woods teem with wildlife, but none of the humans appear aware of it, with the exception of one girl whose eyes are steadily opened to the wonder around her.

The 45-minute film shines a light on natural behaviors that are often overlooked or unnoticed. The filmmakers deploy tiny cameras, inventive motion-control rigs, time-lapse and high-speed frame rates to take viewers inside animal dens. These scenes take place over a year and offer unprecedented views of wildlife in a setting that appears as if it were shot near Chattanooga.

"A visit to the Tennessee Aquarium can introduce guests to a vast array of animals from all over the world, as well as the biologically abundant southeastern United States," says Dr. Brooke Gorman, Aquarium director of science education.

"Walking the galleries — especially after seeing 'The Wild Around You 3D' — helps reinforce the notion that people are part of a complex ecosystem and share their home with incredible native wildlife. This kind of environmental education is very important for people, especially young children. It provides them with a connection to nature and the outdoors that many kids aren't getting today with video games and TV and everything else they do. The more people can connect with nature, the more they really care about it and want to take conservation actions."

Just as the film's family awakens to the beauty just beyond their threshold, Aquarium educators hope viewers will seek out the wonder of wildlife living in their own backyards.

"If we have things in the backyard to enjoy, interact with and give us a fuller appreciation of wildlife, it improves your life," says Dave Collins, the Aquarium's director of forests and animal behavior.

"Both of my kids loved going outside because they loved to explore the yard and find new things in it. Every time they went out, it was a new adventure."

Imax ticket prices are $11.95 per adult, $9.95 per child. Imax/Tennessee Aquarium combo tickets are $37.95 adults, $26.95 children.

For more information or to purchase tickets online: tnaqua.org/imax/the-wild-around-you-3d.

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