Greater Cleveland Aquarium: Exclusive sneak peek

12:03 PM, Jan 18, 2012   |    comments
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CLEVELAND -- Right up until the last minute, the Greater Cleveland Aquarium staff are busy adding some finishing, and fishy touches.

"This is a huge undertaking," said Aquarium General Manager Tami Brown. "We have about 35 tanks, more than a million gallons of water all told. We have about 5,000 fish. It's a very large aquarium!"

The aquarium was designed by Marinescape NZ Ltd. -- a New Zealand-based company.

While the firm has built aquariums around the world, this is its first in North America.

"This is a new take on aquariums that North America has not seen before and how wonderful to be opening that on Saturday," Brown explains.

Aquarium staff had one goal in mind -- making this experience interactive and exciting.

Touch tanks are available throughout the aquarium.

One area is dedicated to alligators. You'll not only have a chance to watch gators in action, but if you're brave enough, you'll also be able to hold a baby alligator.

The coastal water room allows people to touch everything from baby sharks, to starfish, to sting rays.

"All of a sudden you have a real passion and understanding about how amazing these creatures are," Brown said. "Even though they grow up to be somebody you respect."

Another interaction takes place outside the tanks -- some of the fish actually follow hand movements.

Another fascinating part of the aquarium is the landscaping in and around the tanks.

Movie set designers painstakingly worked to recreate what was found in nature.

They painted materials like concrete and styrofoam to look like what was found in these natural habitats.

In all, there are a total of nine different rooms, including everyone's favorite -- the shark tank.

Staff expects opening day on Saturday to sell out quickly.

Aquarium capacity is just over 1,000 people, so they recommend calling or going online to reserve your tickets.

Parents should also know that strollers will not be allowed for now because of space limitations.


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