Stingrays, sharks and eels have found a new home in Toronto.
Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada, the first of its kind in the country officially opened to the public on Wednesday.
With over 16,000 sea creatures spanning 450 species habitats, the aquarium, located at the foot of the CN Tower, promises to help educate the public about life in the oceans while attracting more visitors to the city.
“When people think about where to host their meetings, they’re looking at all the technical stuff about square footage of meeting space, AV and all those things,” said Andrew Weir, Vice President of Tourism Toronto, Toronto Convention & Visitors Association. “But they’re also looking at [what] delegates are going to experience.”
The aquarium will add a backdrop of entertainment with meetings and sports venues, making Toronto a ‘tourism campus,’ Weir added.
“We continue to set new tourism records. Last couple of years we’ve had the most visitors we’ve ever had. This year, we’re pacing about two per cent of last year,” Weir said.
Jim Pattison, owner and CEO of The Jim Pattison group and president of Ripley’s Entertainment Inc., believes it will be a place families will enjoy.
“We want children to be able to touch, yell, scream, get wet and really learn about different animals and the environments they’re from and we do it in unusual ways,” Pattison said. “What we try to do is surprise you around every corner.”
Visitors can crawl through shark tunnels, hold horseshoe crabs and touch stingrays. Videos and maps are also available throughout the aquarium boosting education on different species.
Michael Chan, Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sport was present for Wednesday’s ribbon cutting
“It will be easier driving jobs and driving tourism into the city. But beyond the water, the tanks, there’s more to it,” Chan said. “It’s education, conservation just like the Toronto Zoo, AGO or ROM.”
Admission for children under five cost $12, youth at $20 and adults at $30. The aquarium is open daily from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.