The Aquarium of Niagara Falls debuted as a privately owned corporation on June 12, 1965, founded by a pioneering cluster of chemists and scientists to introduce an artificial seawater. Today, their mission is to broaden public awareness of aquatic ecosystems through innovative and stimulating exhibits, displays, and educational and recreational programs promoting conservation and support research. Visitors to this smaller establishment, the first inland oceanarium, can join animated Peruvian penguins, vocal harbor seals, intriguing tidal pool inhabitants and even sharks for daily feeding sessions; sea lion encounters afford guests the opportunity to learn more about marine mammals through participation in wonderful interactive play sessions. The Aquarium is home to hundreds of fascinating tropical and fresh water residents including the dreaded and voracious piranha and the prehistoric-in-appearance sturgeon, a legendary fish that once thrived in the Great Lakes and Niagara River-and can live to be over 100 years old and come to weigh over 200 lbs! The “Fin-Esse” gift shop floats visitors the perfect opportunity to bring home that perfect marine memento; the Aquarium is open daily, from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm and parking is free!