So you want to go to the Dallas World Aquarium, huh? Well, there are a few things you should know!
This place is phenomenal for visitors of all ages and is located in downtown Dallas, very near attractions like the American Museum of Miniature Arts and the Perot Museum of Nature and Science. Not only is this aquarium completely devoted to the conservation and preservation of tropical and marine animals but they are dedicated to bringing everyday visitors the most advanced scientific information and interactive exhibits so you feel that you are truly experiencing the most of South America's wildlife. Without the danger of being eaten, of course.
The Dallas World Aquarium opened in 1992, utilizing historic warehouses in downtown Dallas. Over the years, the buildings were repurposed and given additions to create the magnificent collection of exhibits that it is today. Not counting the exhibits and aquariums, I'll get to them in a minute, the DWA includes two cafes and one table service restaurant, Eighteen-o-One, which serves international cuisine from Mexico to British Columbia, from Indonesia to Fiji. The cafes focus on familiar and delicious Mexican foods like quesadillas and Tex-Mex style nachos.
Now, getting to the good parts. The DWA can be described as more than just an aquarium as it regularly houses mammals, birds, and other non-amphibious creatures. The major exhibits, of which there are five, all focus around the massive eight-story Mundo Maya exhibit. This incredible gallery is home to plants and animals featured in Mayan folklore plus a 400,000-gallon walk-through exhibit filled with hypnotic and sometimes dangerous creatures. From American flamingos to Axolotls, relatives of the Tiger salamander, Mundo Maya includes nothing but an authentic interpretation of the ancient Mayan culture and their spiritual and practical fascination with wildlife.
In the center of the exhibit is the "Tree of Life" around which all things revolve. Travel through the trails and levels to see exotic birds like Montezuma quail, Jabiru storks, toucans and macaws, and Black and White Hawk Eagles. As the birds fly about your head, view amphibians and reptiles including Helmeted basilisks, tree frogs, boa constrictors, sea turtles, and Morelet's crocodile. Mundo Maya is also where you can find jaguars, those magnificent big cats that feature so heavily in Mayan mythology, as well as bonnethead and brown sharks, freshwater sawfish, and Fairy penguins.
The second largest exhibit, Orinoco, is a seven-story gallery designed to present the diversity of the South American rainforest. One of the most diverse ecosystems on the planet, rainforests are home to more than just marine life. Pied tamarins, Pygmy marmosets, Golden lion tamarins, and red howler monkeys are but a few of the species of monkeys you will be able to find along the trails. With diversity comes a number of dangerous predators that will make you glad there is a glass case between you and what you find here. Arachnophobes will want to steer clear of the Goliath bird-eating spider while those who fear snakes won't want to stick around to see the Emerald tree boa or the green anaconda slither around their habitats. As with the Mundo Maya exhibit, birds flit around your heads and gather in flocks in their ecosystems, mingling with toucanets, araucarias, scarlet ibis, and others. Mammals are also in attendance, both land and sea creatures, like the Antillean manatee, Giant anteaters, and otters. Feedings occur daily at scheduled times to the general public can observe as zookeepers and handlers feed the sharks, otters, and crocodiles.
Now for the exhibit, you came to see, the Aquarium proper. Including a 20,000 gallon a walk-through tunnel, you can see everything from live coral reefs and kelp forests to hundreds of Indo-Pacific fish. Deep-sea fish and colorful reef fish offer a striking, picturesque look into the ecosystems that we don't usually get to see. Some of the more photogenic fish include the Magnificent fox face, Moorish idol, flashlight fish, moon jellyfish, and Zebra angelfish. The species starring in the Disney/Pixar film "Finding Nemo" call this aquarium home including the stars, Marlon and Nemo, Percula clownfish, and Dory, a Blue hippo tang. Unlike the other exhibits, the Aquarium only includes animals you will find in the world's oceans. The Giant Pacific octopus, Japanese spider crab, giant clams, cuttlefish, leafy seadragon, and Mandarin dragonets are beautiful if a little unusual looking, creatures of the deep.
The remaining exhibits, Borneo and South Africa, focus on the creatures of their respective ecosystems. Some notable animals include tree kangaroos, blue penguins, black-footed penguins, panther chameleons, and various fish and birds. While these exhibits are smaller, they are still expertly designed, tended, and, like the other exhibits, include touch screens next to the habitats to give information on the animals.
While the aquarium is an educational tourist attraction, it is also a scientific preserve devoted to the well-being of the animals. The DWA supports the ecosystems of the world with research and funding in six countries including Peru, Brazil, and Venezuela. Experts practice conservation on the animals of the rainforest and tropical ecosystems like manatees, jaguars, and a number of endangered monkeys. The goal of scientists sponsored by the DWA is to gather information and put into practice preservation tactics to save animals being threatened by the encroachment of human civilization.
When you're looking for a destination that everyone will enjoy, the DWA meets all of the requirements for a good time. Also, since this is a learning facility, it also makes for a fabulous educational attraction for field trips, student trips, and for those groups with interests in conservation or simply enjoy viewing exotic animals. If you have a day in Dallas and want something fun yet interesting, head to the Dallas World Aquarium and experience the rainforest without ever having to leave the U.S. or get those pesky vaccinations.