Children's Aquarium at Fair Park News

Children's Aquarium at Fair Park News

New Children’s Aquarium at Fair Park Open for Sneak Peek during the State Fair of Texas
Sep 23, 2010

New Children’s Aquarium at Fair Park Open
for Sneak Peek during the State Fair of Texas

The Children’s Aquarium at Fair Park opens its doors on Sept. 24 for the first day of the 2010 State Fair of Texas to offer fairgoers a sneak peek at the new facility at a discount from regular admission. The highlight of the new Children’s Aquarium is the outdoor pavilion featuring Stingray Bay, where guests can feed and interact with cownose rays. Next to it, a large shark pool is home to eagle rays and southern stingrays as well as bonnethead sharks. Indoors, the kid-friendly design offers interactive exhibits for hands-on exploration, with touch pools, feeding demonstrations, child-high viewing windows, birthday party facilities, colorful graphics, tools for teachers, and more. Formerly known as The Dallas Aquarium at Fair Park, the historic art-deco building closed in January 2009 for an $8.2 million renovation. The interactive exhibits and the majority of exhibit windows will be available for viewing during the Fair and the Children’s Aquarium at Fair Park will be fully operational by early December.

“Children are fascinated by the underwater world,” said Gregg Hudson, executive director of the Children’s Aquarium at Fair Park and the Dallas Zoo. “We want to create a fantastic adventure that engages them with exhibits and displays that are designed to entertain, while they learn about the aquatic ecosystems around the world.”

Guests to the Children’s Aquarium at Fair Park enter a spacious room that is the setting for the Intertidal Gallery, featuring species that live in the brackish waters bridging saltwater and freshwater. The room is anchored by a coastal touch tank filled with horseshoe crabs, sea stars, sea urchins, anemones, and other creatures that children can touch. The Intertidal Gallery also will be home to upside-down jellyfish in a mangrove exhibit and a large tank of 150 to 200 schooling fish, such as Oriental sweet lips.

To the right, guests encounter the Freshwater Gallery, which features bass, trout, piranhas, cichlids, tetras, and more. The very popular 174-pound alligator snapping turtle, which is more than 70 years old and has lived at the Children’s Aquarium for 17 years, has returned. Other animals associated with freshwater habitats, including frogs, snakes, and turtles, are featured. Lurking in a simulated cypress swamp, two albino American alligators capture children’s attention.

The Saltwater Gallery located on the left side of the Children’s Aquarium, includes displays representing the many ecosystems within the sea. A coconut crab, the world’s largest hermit crab, lives at the Shore. (Many of the saltwater tanks are still being prepared for fish and will not be viewable during the Fair.) Clown fish, along with moray, garden, and wolf eels, live at the Nearshore exhibit. Offshore, visitors discover moon jellyfish and sea nettles. The cold water tanks are home to the giant Pacific octopus and king crabs. A coastal shark tank will house young white-tip sharks and baby sharks of other species at the Children’s Aquarium. The Saltwater Gallery also features special habitats to represent an oil rig and the Flower Garden habitats in the Gulf of Mexico. A wave exhibit demonstrates the natural motion of the sea and shows how southern stargazers, flounders, and sergeant majors adapt to the action of waves. Other displays feature nocturnal, symbiosis, Asian saltmarsh, Sea of Cortez, lionfish, kelp forest, Lake Victoria, Amazon, Trinity River, oyster reef, and other environments.
“An important component of the Aquarium redesign is to feature the sea creatures from books and movies that are familiar to children,” said Lynn Kramer, D.V.M., deputy director for animal conservation and science. “We also raised the floors and removed railings so children can get face-to-face with the fish.”

Behind the scenes, the Aquarium utilized the remodeling to extensively update life support systems for the fish.

“We have put together a ‘greatest hits’ collection of sea creatures for the public to enjoy,” said Brian Potvin, curator of aquatic husbandry for the Dallas Zoo and the Children’s Aquarium at Fair Park. “The fish and other animals will benefit from new state-of-the-art water and filtration systems, key components of the remodeling project. The increased efficiency of the new systems reduces water consumption and supports the Children’s Aquarium’s mission of promoting water conservation.”

Guests can feed animals in Stingray Bay at 10 a.m., noon, and 2, 4, and 6 p.m. The Coastal touch pool is open continuously from 10 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. during the State Fair of Texas. Staff feedings for the following sea creatures and nearby specimens take place daily at 11 a.m.

  • Sunday            Stingray Bay – sharks and rays
  • Monday           Nearshore Gallery – wolf eels and moray eels
  • Tuesday          Freshwater Gallery – piranhas, alligators, and the alligator snapping turtle
  • Wednesday     Shore Gallery – sea turtle/giant Pacific octopus and coconut crabs
  • Thursday         Stingray Bay – sharks and rays
  • Friday              Intertidal Gallery – schooling tank and the Offshore Gallery animals, including the Coastal shark tank
  • Saturday         Freshwater Gallery – piranhas, alligators, and the alligator snapping turtle

Discounted admission during the Fair is $5 for ages 3 and above and free for children age 2 and younger and DZS members. (When fully operational, admission is $8 for ages 12-64, $6 for ages 3-11.) The Children’s Aquarium at Fair Park will be open from 10 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. during the State Fair of Texas. After the Fair, operating hours will be 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The Children’s Aquarium is located at 1462 First Ave. in the shadow of the Texas Star Ferris wheel. For more information, please call (469) 554-7500 or visit


Special State Fair Sneak Peak Admission Price

Tickets to the Children’s Aquarium are only $5 with your State Fair admission.

Zoo members get free “sneak peek” admission with your State Fair admission!