Austin has an aquarium! It opened to the public just before Christmas, although season pass holders got a sneak peak 10 days earlier. The 22,000 square-foot aquarium is located in an Anderson Mill Road strip-mall off U.S. 183 and features a large variety of cold and warm water fish, tropical fish, reptiles, invertebrates, and corals.
“It’s better than I expected,” said Jason Hartman in an interview with the Austin American-Statesman. “Looking at the space outside, I didn’t know all this would be in here,” he adds.
“All this” includes interactive exhibits where tanks are open on top allowing children to touch and feed the animals. Among those would be smooth-hound sharks, leopard sharks, and guitarfish. Assured that the animals won’t bite, visitors enjoy the tactile experiences.
The owners expect to bring in many more animals. It’s a slow process to introduce animals into tanks, says aquarium director Shaun Monahan. Rays, iguanas, poison dart frogs, and a Pacific giant octopus are currently among the favorite attractions. Expected in May 2014 are Asian small clawed otters, fur seals, and sea turtles.
Although the aquarium has met with opposition from PETA, and the owners have faced charges of questionable practices, the Austin Aquarium has been well received by the public. Almost 12,000 people have purchased season passes, so there should be plenty of repeat visits by local residents.
Ticket prices are $7.95 for children ages 2-11; $12.95 for adults; and $10.95 for seniors and military. An annual family membership is now $104.96. The facility will host birthday and graduation parties as well as family or corporate events.
Location: 13530 N. U.S. 183, suite 101. www.austinaquarium.com
Hours: 10 a.m. to7 p.m. Sunday-Thursday; 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday-Saturday.