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The Aquarium Celebrates it's 20th Birthday!
By: Dee, Aquarist at The Audubon Aquarium of the Americas
As we celebrate our 20th birthday I thought I would share a few fun facts about what the building was like on opening day and what has changed in the last twenty years.
Fanny, Ernie, Kohl, Zelda, Snapper and Dobie, original members of our Penguin Colony, are still on exhibit. We estimate that in 20 years our penguin colony has consumed over 160,600 pounds of fish!
Our leucistic alligator Spots was only three years old and was living with his brother Pale Face in the Mississippi Gallery. At the time Spots was only 4 feet long, today he has more than doubled in size.
There was an invertebrate Periscope Pool with underwater viewing so our visitors could get nose to tentacle with anemones.
There were only five life support systems in the building; Gulf of Mexico, Trout Stream, Amazon, Penguins and Mississippi. Now there are over thirty separate life support systems throughout the Aquarium.
The Trout Stream is now our Sea Otter exhibit.
In 1990, our green sea turtle, Midas was finishing up his 21st year living at the New York Aquarium on Coney Island.
When the building first opened the plants in the Amazon Gallery were just starting to grow, and it looked very bare.
There was no IMAX Theater or Adventure Island. The IMAX opened in 1995 and the first film offered was The Living Sea.
Former New Orleans Mayor, Sidney Barthelemy lost a bet with Audubon's President, Ron Forman and had to swim in the Gulf of Mexico Exhibit with the Sharks!
The year we opened there was no casino in New Orleans.
Katie Couric was a cub reporter for CBS and got her first live shot at the Aquarium of the Americas Grand Opening!
The Aquariums Director of Husbandry, John Hewitt and Director of Touring Exhibits, Ian Hiler are the only members of the original Husbandry Staff to be here for both Grand Opening and our 20th Anniversary! In 1990, half of our current Husbandry Staff was under the age of ten.
The Aquarium was on the cover of the New Orleans Yellow Pages in 1990. In 2010 it was featured on the cover of the White Pages.
Look for more fun facts hidden throughout the Aquarium in our Double Decades of Discoveries scavenger hunt. We look forward to sharing our Birthday, and a piece of cake, with all of you this weekend!
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