Back in 2008 when I first visited Vancouver, I made a trip with my husband and a friend to the Vancouver Aquarium in Stanley Park. At the time, the biggest buzz was around the new baby beluga whale who was only 7 days old and were looking for a name.
This time around I have neglected to mention the place even though it is one of Vancouver’s favourite tourist destinations. Probably because I am not a tourist here this time around. However this time around I have a child and I have ‘the rain’ which I was sure didn’t exist in Vancouver last time (was just sunny everyday) and I find myself making multiple trips to the Aquarium…my son loves it! It’s quite amazing to see how quick little people memorise things, even after three visits he can pretty much lead you to any one of the exotic animal displays. In this setting, it is worth your while to buy a membership which makes it great value per visit.
The Vancouver Aquarium first opened in 1956 and is a non-profit society dedicated to the conservation of aquatic life. They are open 365 days of the year.
It makes for a great escape when the weather is failing this beautiful city and children can spend hours in there. In fact I usually need to wait until my son is about to pass out for his midday nap before we can leave as he has so much enjoyment there.
Today, we all went as a family with a new exciting exhibit open – Penguin Point! Given my son adopted a plush penguin at six months who is not so plush anymore as his comforter, I knew this would be a winner. I am pretty certain ‘Buboo’ my son’s penguin is a species from the Antarctic. What I didn’t know until I arrived was that there are 18 species of penguins in the world. The exhibit was welcoming a huddle of African penguins which are the only species known to live along the southern coasts of the continent and have black feet and pink patches above their eyes. I learnt that their bare skin patches turn pink when they are hot. It’s a way for them to cool off as they live in a sub-tropical climate. I do want to note though, they were awkwardly statuesque and were perhaps unsure whether to perform or not for their new audience. They may have a bit to learn from their Antarctic cousins like the little blue fairy penguins from Australia and NZ who love to swim lots and keep active.
I personally love the Beluga whales, I can watch them glide for what seems like hours – they are so graceful. Kavna, Aurora and Qila are all females and are the only three at the Aquarium. Kavna is the oldest about 43 years old and came to the aquarium in 1976. Aurora was born in 1987 and had her daughter Qila (KEE-la) in 1995. What I didn’t anticipate on a weekend after mid-week opportunities of choosing prime position minutes before the show is going to start was the herd of people (not whales) that were all staking out their position 20 minutes before-hand. It is best to try an avoid weekends if after that upfront experience.
So, an otter, a pair of dolphins, spring of sea lions and a school of ‘Nemo’s’ later we were into the Amazon area with the main attraction being the least active or should we say non-active mammal; the sloth. The beautiful colours of all the butterflies fluttering about is always a treat for me who loves their shape and free spirit however my husband has a thing about heat so was happy to make a quick exit out of the steamy rainforest conditions.
All in all, the Vancouver Aquarium is a must and I will enjoy playing host to any friends and family members who come to visit us by taking them there.