What makes a good aquarium? Is it just the quality of the different exhibits? How exotic the fish are? Interactivity? Questions of this nature raced through my mind as I was planning to write this particular article. After quite a bit of thought, a moment of clarity hit me that helped me make some sense of these topics. Since I am not an aquarium expert or marine biologist by any stretch of the imagination I have to categorize myself as an average aquarium goer. We run-of-the-mill aquarium visitors want to be reasonably awed by some kind of exotic fish, see some marine animals that we cannot purchase at a pet store, and ultimately learn something about marine life that we did not know before entering the aquarium. The Scott Aquarium at the Henry Doorly Zoo successfully accomplishes all three of these tasks.
The aquarium contains some very impressive exhibits. The polar area, which is the first part of the aquarium, has a few puffins and a really cool penguin display. The penguin display consists of a long viewing window that allows visitors to watch the birds swim and waddle around. The exhibit even has the capability of snowing on the penguins from time to time. The zoo really touts their Shark Tunnel exhibit, which is basically a lengthy glass tunnel that stretches under a bunch of sharks and other marine animals swimming all around you. You'll get a crink in your neck if you are not careful. In fact, you will ask yourself: "How long have I been staring up at these sharks with my my mouth wide open?" There is a coral reef section that houses a ton of colorful marine life that will make you want to waste hundreds of dollars on a saltwater tank ecosystem for your living room at home. One exhibit that flies under the radar that I find very interesting is the Amazon flooded forest exhibit, which is the very last exhibit. It allows you to see some of the odd and creepy animals that live in and around the Amazon River. Also, be sure to take a look at the huge black lit tube of jelly fish.
Most of the exhibits are labeled nicely and have some interesting information and facts about the marine life. However, there are several instances where it is very difficult to find any information at all about the fish. Overall, I think they can do a lot more when it comes to providing data about the marine life. My guess is that they might be holding out for when they totally remodel the aquarium, which is slated to be done in the Spring of 2012. The remodel might make the aquarium the flagship of the zoo since they will be improving an already above average entity.
One of the drawbacks of the aquarium, which I hope they address in the remodeling project, is the fact that it is extremely difficult to enjoy during the zoo's peak hours. You almost have to elbow your way through the exhibits when you visit the aquarium in middle of the afternoon on a Saturday or Sunday. You constantly have to dodge youngsters and strollers coming at you from all directions, and at times you get stuck standing at an exhibit that you have absolutely no interest in while the more popular ones are jammed packed with spectators smearing their faces all over the glass. Even the very cool Shark Tunnel is impossible to enjoy during these times. In fact, you may wish that you were being devoured by one of the sharks swimming above you than be stuck in the gridlock-like chaos of the tunnel. It felt like it took a half-and-hour to get through the shark tunnel the last time we went during the peak hours. Moral of the story: go in the morning or during the week if you can.
Keep a look out for more Henry Doorly Zoo exhibit articles in the near future!
Additional Exploring Omaha articles on Henry Doorly Zoo:
Henry Doorly Zoo (Overall)
Henry Doorly Zoo website
Scott Aquarium info .pdf
Location of Henry Doorly Zoo
MY RATING (out of 10):