TORONTO — Visitors to Toronto may not be able to swim with the sharks on Bay Street but they’ll have an up-close view of the ocean predators in a new indoor aquarium.
After two years of construction, delays and $130 million in costs, Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada opened to the public Wednesday.
The aquarium, billed as the country’s largest, is home to more than 13,000 aquatic animals and 450 different species held in nearly six million litres of water.
Attractions include areas to touch crabs and stingrays, behind-the-scenes tours and an opportunity to “sleep with the sharks” during an overnight stay beneath a shark tank.
The aquarium also boasts a football-field length glass viewing tunnel with a moving sidewalk that will take visitors past sharks, sea turtles, sawfish and moray eels.
Mayor Rob Ford, Coun. Adam Vaughan and Ripley’s CEO Jim Pattison were among guests at the ribbon cutting in downtown Toronto near the CN Tower.
Construction on the three-level, 12,500-square-metre facility began in August 2011. But the aquarium’s initial debut was postponed in June to ensure the proper installation of the 50 tanks housing the animals. The opening was again delayed in September.
The facility was funded in part by Ripley’s Entertainment Inc., Canada Lands Company and the Ontario government. It’s expected to draw more than two million visitors a year.
Tickets are $30 for adults, $20 for youth and $12 for children under five.