TORONTO - Canadians sure love their fish.
Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada finally opened Wednesday at the base of the CN Tower, with dozens of visitors exploring almost 40,000 square metres of marine habitat.
The largest indoor aquarium in Canada is home to over 16,000 animals, including sharks, seahorses, electric eels, and poisonous fish.
Even Mayor Rob Ford made a brief appearance at the launch. Reporters learned his favourite marine animal is the great white shark.
“It has a big mouth and it has sharp teeth,” Ford said. “If anything gets in its way, he takes care of it pretty quick.”
But Ford admitted he found ticket prices a little on the high side, at $29.98 for adults, $19.98 for youth aged 6-13 and seniors 65 and over, and $9.98 for kids aged 3-5.
“It’s a bit pricey, but we’ll see what happens,” he said.
Visitors can pet a sting ray, stroke a horseshoe crab, or engage in a stare-off with a cheeky green sawfish on a stroll through the aquarium’s underwater tunnel that is almost 100 metres long.
Andy Dehart, director of husbandry, said he hopes people will learn more about life in the ocean through Ripley’s new venture.
“There’s a lot of amazing things in nature, whether it be male seahorses carrying babies, whether it be fish that are venomous for protection, or even sand tiger sharks, how they can lose 30,000 teeth in a lifetime,” he said.
The $130 million aquarium also features animals displaced during Superstorm Sandy last year.
Justin Culbert, 16, said his father first sparked his interest in marine life years ago. He now keeps a 250-litre reef tank at home.
“My dad (and I) have been going (to aquariums) since I was little and just got into it and loved it,” Culbert said.
The opening also attracted a protester from Marineland Animal Defence, a group advocating for animals in captivity.
Zach Ruiter, 30, said animals belong in the wild.
“A pool is not a home,” Ruiter said.
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