In the shadow of Eldorado Resort Casino – a 400-room hotel-gaming complex – is Shreveport Aquarium looking small and blue; like a tiny lake at the foot of a mountain. But what’s inside this welcoming haven for nature lovers and children of all ages is anything but small. Although it is blue.
On this unseasonably hot October day I welcome the cool comfort of air conditioning and the visual coolness of coral rainbows and tropical fish swimming behind glass illuminated by sapphire blue lighting.
There are almost 300 different species housed in these tanks as well as ducks, turtles and tide pool animals like orange sea stars and purple sea urchins in other areas of the attraction.
I keep moving through the facility taking my time to enjoy the otherworldly sites. I come to a point where I am in a huge glass dome that looks like a great kid’s play area before I reenter the coolness beside the tide pool. I am instructed to wash my hands first and then with two fingers I can gently touch the sea urchins, sea stars, anemones and cleaner shrimp lined up all along what looks like the banks of a meandering stream.
In the next room is a large pool of stingrays. As if wanting to be touched, they come to the edge of the pool and lift their heads out of the water. They are not at all shy. Their skin is slimy and soft.
To my surprise right around the corner is a pool of jellyfish. The young woman explains this particular species can’t sting or harm humans and invites me to touch them; a first for me.
There are many areas where children can explore with subdues lighting and small cave-like spaces before the final grand finale, so to speak – the shark tank that is made into a tunnel. The sharks and other fish swim on all sides as I watch in wonder. This is the perfect end to a fun afternoon.
If you go:
Aquarium personnel are very friendly and helpful from the time you enter the front door to the waitress at the café.
There are specific times of the week for demonstrations on feeding sharks, alligator snapping turtles and sting rays. There are also scheduled visits from pirates and mermaids, and special behind the scenes tours. In some cases there is an additional fee.
At the exit is a small gift shop with a great selection for children at reasonable prices and SALT Café with a full menu.
The aquarium is located at 601 Clyde Fant Parkway in Shreveport.
For more information: www.shreveportaquarium.com; (318) 383-0601.