Dallas World Aquarium/Children’s Aquarium at Fair Park
I admit -- I love both the Dallas World Aquarium in downtown, and the Children’s Aquarium at Fair Park. Each has the summertime advantage of offering indoor entertainment with some education thrown in when it’s too hot to play outdoors. And their “niches” are sufficiently different that seeing either doesn’t detract from the fun of experiencing the other.
I visited the Dallas World Aquarium, 1801 N. Griffin, recently to check out some changes. The exhibit of giant river otters on level two of the multi-story building has moved due to work on an expanded habitat for the aquarium’s tamarins (small monkey relatives -- yes, DWA includes a lot more than water creatures). But the otters still seemed to have plenty of room to cavort -- and eye their human visitors.
Also new for the summer -- through Labor Day, September 3, Grupo Pakal will dance to Native American music every weekend -- Friday through Sunday -- in the Mundo Maya exhibit. The dancers and their birds graciously pose for photographs afterward.
Performance times as well as schedules for animal feedings several times daily are listed at www.dwazoo.com/.
(For reasons best known to themselves, my grandsons are crazy about the two-toed sloths and imitate them by hanging upside down whenever possible.)
Although the sun was hot on the day of my visit, even the outdoor exhibit of black-footed penguins felt comfortable for both people and birds, thanks to shade and ample flowing water. The DWA states that the penguins are native to South Africa’s Cape of Good Hope, not needing frigid Antarctic temperatures to thrive.
The Children’s Aquarium at Fair Park focuses only on water-living creatures. It generally isn’t as crowded as DWA, and the boys love being able to get close to exhibits such as the rescued sea turtle and the “bubble” wall in the octopus habitat that invite you to reach in and -- almost -- touch.
Actual touch is possible Sundays, Wednesdays and Fridays at 2:30 p.m. when the sharks and stingrays in the shaded outdoor Stingray Bay exhibit gather for feeding. The catwalks and glass-sided tanks allow ample views of the shark feedings. Aquarium employees feed the sharks, but visitors may feed -- and touch -- the stingrays whose barbs have been clipped for safety.
For $2, the aquarium sells small cupfuls of shellfish for stingray feeding. And the fish aren’t shy about coming close for food. (Daily feedings of other animals, including the aquarium’s albino alligator, are open for visitor viewing as well.)
The Children’s Aquarium offers a couple of other benefits. It costs $8 for adults compared to the DWA’s $20.95, with parking always free except during the State Fair. (Enter at gate 6 off Second Avenue in Dallas for adjacent parking.) And the Children’s Aquarium is only yards away from the Fair Park lagoon, where kids can continue the aquatic theme by following the raised pathways. For complete ticket and schedule information, see