When fire spread on Nov. 28 from the Smokies into Gatlinburg, there were lots of concerns about the aquarium's 10,518 animals.

General Manager Ryan DeSear said it was probably the hardest experience of his life to evacuate and leave the animals behind.

RELATED: Ripley's animals are safe following wildfires

Luckily the fires avoided the facility and employees were able to return Tuesday morning to care for the inhabitants once again.

MORE: Ripley's rescue teams checking on stranded Gatlinburg animals

In the days since the wildfires tore through town, the aquarium's kitchen has been cooking up hundreds of hot meals each day for first responders.

They plan to reopen the aquarium to guests at 8 a.m. Friday morning. The city and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park officially reopens to the general public at 7 a.m. Friday.