The first public aquarium was opened at London Zoo in 1853 and housed a small variety of exotic fish in medium sized tanks. The first aquarium in the United States opened on Broadway in New York City in 1856 but burned down in 1859.
Today when many people think of aquariums they think of the larger oceanarium theme parks like SeaWorld Orlando, Sea World on the Gold Coast (Australia) and Ocean Park in Hong Kong. All three of these parks, like many others, are a combination of aquariums, marine mammal zoo and theme park. Consisting of thrill rides, elaborate animal shows and impressive animal enclosures, also providing the public with close animal encounters. These parks have grown in popularity over the last couple of decades.
|The variety of animals found at Oceanariums|
What about the public aquariums? Can these smaller facilities compete with the larger oceanariums? Are fish a big enough draw card to get the crowds in? What other animals do aquariums house and how are aquariums contributing to the marine conservation effort?
Over the next year I will be visiting and reviewing some well known public aquariums to answer these questions and see what they are doing to get their share of the animal tourism dollar.