Located in Dallas, Texas, the Children’s Aquarium at Fair Park was first established in 1936, and that year it featured in the Dallas Centennial Exposition. There are many attractions at Fair Park that visitors can enjoy along with their trip to the aquarium, and the park is well known across the country as one of the best preserved pre-1950s state fairs. Countless visitors make their way to Fair Park to take in the beautiful art deco-inspired architecture as well as to sample their many rides, games, and exhibits. The aquarium has over 55 exhibits and is open 7 days a week. The facility showcases a variety of animals from a number of aquatic habitats.
The aquarium comprises six distinct sections: freshwater, intertidal, shore, near shore, offshore, and Stingray Bay, where there are 17 stingrays on display as well as programs that facilitate close encounters with them.
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The aquarium has an excellent educational night program aimed at promoting awareness and education about the aquatic lifeforms on display for both youth groups and families. Through their Sleeping with the Fishes overnight group program, both families and chaperoned groups of children aged 5 and up can experience sleeping in the aquarium gallery, where they can observe the animals’ night time behavior. This program includes snacks and a guided tour as well as various crafting activities. This program promotes a deepened understanding of aquatic life as it includes a one-on-one feeding encounter with sharks and stingrays.
There are several classroom-based programs that are geared towards elementary school aged children. For pre-kindergarten and kindergarten aged children, the aquarium offers the Sea Squirts: Tidepool program. The aim of this program is to promote literacy as well as knowledge of aquatic natural history through a variety of interactive activities connected to the tide pool-based life forms on display.
For children in grades one through four, the aquarium offers the Aquatic Adaptations program. In this program, children are familiarized with the unique features of the exhibited animals that enable them to survive underwater. The Mollusk Lab offers children in grades three through eight a chance to learn about the phylum Mollusca and the diversity contained within its 85,000 species. Students can get an inside look at the internal makeup of squids though the live dissection offered through this program.
The aquarium offers daily demonstrations where visitors can observe live feedings of some of their most popular exhibits. Each day of the week features a different animal., so it is best to check their website in advance for details. Among the animals showcased in this program are sharks, moray eels, alligators, alligator snapping turtles, sea turtles, and piranhas.
The collection of stingrays at the aquarium is one of its biggest draws for visitors. The aquarium currently houses 17 cownose stingrays, which normally dwell in the Eastern United States, the Gulf of Mexico, the Caribbean, and Western Africa. These docile creatures are named after their foreheads, which resemble a cow nose. Feeding on shellfish and fish found on or near the ocean floor, they typically live at depths of 72 feet.
The aquarium also has an impressive collection of sharks, such as the bonnethead shark, the blacktip shark, and the beautiful zebra shark. The zebra shark is named after the striations that appear on juveniles of the species. As they age, the striations turn into spots. This is why the zebra shark is also called the leopard shark.
The aquarium’s offshore zone houses many of the ocean’s most stunning creatures, including the nautilus, lion fish, and nurse sharks. Unlike most other sharks, nurse sharks are smooth to the touch and their skin is often harvested for the production of leather products. Also unique is their ability to stay motionless for long periods of time.
The section with the most diverse species is the aquarium’s near shore zone. Here visitors can observe clownfish, porcupine fish, and moon jellies, to name a few. The clownfish, popularized by the movie Finding Nemo, are an excellent reminder of the way in which species depend on one another for survival. The clownfish live alongside sea anemones with which they have a symbiotic relationship. While the anemones are armed with stinging nematocysts, which protect the clownfish from predators, the clownfish bring food and remove parasites that may otherwise harm the anemones. Interestingly, the clownfish develop immunity to the toxins released by the anemones by gradually exposing more and more of their bodies to the substance.
1462 1st Ave, Dallas, TX, 75210, website, Phone: 469-554-7340
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