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The Life Aquatic

When it comes to interesting underwater creatures, the Children’s Aquarium at Fair Park is filled with animals that will keep the kiddos intrigued. With its interactive exhibits, fresh- and salt-water critters and feeding demonstrations, there are lots of opportunities for the kids to be enriched and amazed.

Last year, the aquarium had a major remodel and expansion to make the exhibits more kid-friendly. This included raising the floor so your little ones don’t have to stand on their tippy-toes or sit on dad’s shoulder and mounting televisions on the walls to play various water and wildlife footage.

As soon as kids walk in, they get plenty of choices: go left (salt water habitats), right (fresh-water dwellers), straight ahead (front interactive area with horseshoe crabs, snails and more) or outside (Stingray Bay exhibit). Pick and choose which exhibits to view or take your time and see them all.

Choose the salt water area to mingle with seahorses, jellyfish, sharks and even a habitat with fish that look like some of the characters in Finding Nemo (just to name a few)! There is also a tank that simulates waves underwater to show how fish react to different currents. In the fresh-water section, you can view animals such as the albino alligators, piranhas (they aren’t as aggressive as one may think) and the endangered Gila trout. You will also see one of the oldest inhabitants of the aquarium—the lone ranger remaining in the building during the remodel—the alligator snapping turtle. His estimated weight is 200 pounds or more and is around 75 to 100 years old. No wonder they let him stay put!

After exploring the indoors, venture out to Stingray Bay, the large outdoor area where you can have a sensory experience petting or feeding the Cownose rays (purchase food for $2 a cup). While there, don’t forget to check out the shark and ray tank for further observation of sea life.

After feeding the rays, you and the kids might be ready for a bite to eat. With picnic tables outside, families are welcome to bring food and drink to enjoy some outdoor dining. The facility also offers field trips, camps and birthday parties for your little marine biologists to have some extended fun with their new aquatic friends.

At the end of your day, don’t be surprised if the kids aren’t ready to leave just yet. You can always promise to come back very soon—the Children’s Aquarium is open seven days a week.