Aquarium of Niagara, a Must See Attraction, Continues to Upgrade Despite Pandemic

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By: Reporter Staff

Having completed $10 million in renovations and exhibit upgrades in the past few years, the Aquarium of Niagara has transformed itself before our very eyes.

It seems as though new and exciting attractions are being added every year.

 In the past three years alone, the Aquarium added a $3.6 million Penguin Coast habitat for their Humboldt penguins, a state-of-the-art jellyfish exhibit called ‘Aliens of the Sea,’ and the forthcoming M&T Bank Shark and Ray Bay Touch Pool.

Opening for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic in July, the Aquarium has implemented measures to keep guests safe including video messaging, floor decals, and signs posted on every exhibit. 

 Aquarium Spokesperson Christine Streich said, “We’ve worked hard to ensure that our COVID-19 related policies and procedures help visitors stay safe while not infringing on opportunities for discovery and inspiration.  We’ve kept things simple, reminding visitors to wear a mask; follow one-way flow of traffic; and one group per exhibit.”

While they were closed during the pandemic in April, two baby penguins, named Alpha and Beta, hatched.  

 

 

They have grown quickly since then. The babies were under 3 ounces when they hatched and now – at 3 ½ months, they weigh more than six pounds each. A full-grown Humboldt penguin weighs about 10 pounds.

“These are the first penguin chicks to hatch at the Aquarium in 14 years, so it was a monumental occasion at the Aquarium and a ray of light during our COVID-related closure,” said Streich.  

The Niagara Falls tourism industry has suffered greatly as a result of the pandemic with visitors not permitted to enter the U.S. from many countries, the U.S. – Canada border being closed, and bans on intra-state travel into New York for more than half the state in America.  

The Aquarium was no exception to feeling the impact of this. 

Streich told the Reporter, “while we expect the COVID-19 crisis to have an ongoing impact on tourism, we are optimistic about the rest of the summer and fall seasons. Niagara Falls is a wonderful spot for families looking for a vacation that is accessible by car. We’ve already seen an influx of visitors from other parts of New York State, Ohio and Pennsylvania.”

Meantime, the Aquarium can boast of several projects that have recently been completed or are  ongoing such as: 

(i) renovating the event room to feature a stunning view overlooking the Niagara gorge – which was completed this past month,

(ii) the M&T Bank Shark & Ray Bay, a 4,000 gallon interactive touch pool featuring sharks, sting rays and various marine invertebrates and fish, which is expected to be completed this fall,

(iii) new digital programming such as virtual penguin and sea lion painting classes, a virtual yoga at the Aquarium series, and a summer-camp-style virtual series called ‘Animal Tales,’

(iv) renovating certain exhibits including a first-floor one that will feature the endangered Asian Arowana. 

 

 

The Aquarium is not only for tourists, but for the local community.

“For the past several years we’ve hosted ‘716 Days.,’” said Streich, referring to the area code and the special low price admission. “These are three-day events where local residents get admission to the Aquarium for $7.16, more than half off the price of adult general admission. We also encourage local families to become Aquarium members and enjoy unlimited admission to the Aquarium for the year.”

A one-year family membership is $75.

 

 

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