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11,000-sq foot aquarium to open soon in NorthTown Mall

SPOKANE, Wash. - A new interactive aquarium is coming to north Spokane. Blue Zoo Spokane announced it's opening an 11,000-square foot aquarium in Northtown Mall. Contruction and progress have been kept under wraps until now.

The space is still a work in progress, but things are coming along. The aquarium already has several tanks up and running. Walls are being painted and exhibits are being furnished. A few tanks already have fish in them, however, it'll still be another month or two before the aquarium is fully populated with wildlife.

The owner of Blue Zoo Spokane said he hopes the aquarium will serve as more than just an attraction. 

"Parents now are looking for a place to put down the iPhone and the iPad and go interact with your kids and do something productive and constructive," said Wesley Haws, owner of Blue Zoo Spokane.

Haws said Blue Zoo is that place. Somewhere to go to have fun and learn, too.

"Experiences are more than just buying stuff," Haws said.

He said places like Blue Zoo help educate kids and their families on how they can affect nature.

"What are you guys doing in Spokane that affects the oceans," Haws said. "When people actually tell you to do something in Spokane to help the oceans, you're like - oh, so this is what I'm protecting, right?"

Blue Zoo gives people the opportunity to see marine life up close. Some, you can even touch.

"These are touch tanks where you can pick up a starfish, have a shrimp walk on your hand, play with the snails," Haws said.

The aquarium will have several different tanks including a predator tank, reef tank, giant octopus tank, river tank, and Clownfish tank. Each tank is to show how different fish live and thrive.

"The purpose of this tank is to show symbiosis. The Clownfish live in the anenomes and they help each other out. These Banggai cardinals, they live inside those urchins," Haws said.

The aquarium also has a fresh water center where you can see electric eels, Discus, and Archerfish. Blue Zoo is building a wave table, as well.

"You'll be able to crank on the handle and you'll see waves and there's a video showing the mechanics of waves and how it works," Haws said.

If fish don't interest you, Blue Zoo has more than just marine life.

"Reptile exhibits, so you'll also be able to come in here and touch, feed an iguana," Haws said.

You can also find a bird exhibit at Blue Zoo where you can hold birds and feed them, too.

It's all about learning how what you do affects nature, which is explained right when you come in. After the front desk, where you get your tickets, you'll head on through to the welcome room.

"This is a welcome room. This is where I want to tell people my story, why we're doing it," Haws said.

The 'why' behind the idea is something personal.

"2010, I was running a project in Africa and I was attacked by a villager over there. Then I ended up having two brain surgeries," Haws said. 

Haws was out of commission for a while following those surgeries. While he was in recovery, he found joy through a fish tank he got. 

"You can have a lot of problems, or disabilities, or a lot of things - and companion animals or a fish tank can make a big difference," Haws said. "It was engaging to me, the chemistry and learning about the fish and where they come from and all of that."

He wants others to feel that at Blue Zoo - that rush, that wave of curiosity.

"Learning about the world around us inspires us and helps us understand why we're here and why we're part of it," Haws said.

Annual and daily passes for Blue Zoo are already on sale at a discounted rate. You can also make birthday party reservations. The interactive aquarium is scheduled to open sometime between late July or early August. Blue Zoo is also hiring for several different positions throughout the aquarium, if you're looking for a job.

For more information, you can visit Blue Zoo Spokane's website.


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