An underwater world of wonder

ZSL Whipsnade Zoo opens the UK’s first Aquarium dedicated to conserving the world’s most astonishing and endangered freshwater fish - opening Friday 26 July 2019.

Aquarium at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo

Fish that can jump out of the water to pluck fruit from trees, have evolved to no longer need eyes, or even live out of water for more than two months, are among the incredible species that will call ZSL Whipsnade Zoo’s new Aquarium home. 

Opening on Friday 26 July, the Aquarium at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo will be the first in the UK dedicated to conserving threatened and extinct-in-the-wild freshwater fish.

Taking visitors on a round-the-world journey through ten of the planet’s most extreme and fascinating aquatic habitats, from a vibrant flooded forest in Brazil, to an African puddle, the Aquarium will bring families face-to-face with some of the rarest and most unique fish species in existence.

Showcasing a secret world beneath the water, the Aquarium will be home to fish which have developed astonishing abilities in order to survive in a huge range of strikingly different environments, including the dusky narrow hatchetfish, which jumps out of the water in the flooded forests of Brazil to pluck low-hanging fruit and seeds from trees. 

Caribbean mangrove killifish can survive out of water for as long as 66 days, while Omani blind cave fish navigate through pitch black caves without eyes. Not only are some of the fish extinct-in-the-wild, but for some, ZSL Whipsnade Zoo is one of the only places in the world where they still exist. 

ZSL Whipsnade Zoo’s Aquarium Team Leader Alex Cliffe said: “It will be the first Aquarium in the Zoo’s almost 90-year history, and it will be an incredibly vibrant, colourful, sensory experience that not only reveals the secret life of fish, but gives an insight into the conservation work underway to rescue some of the world’s most incredible fish from the brink of extinction.”

“As well as making their way around the world, through Caribbean mangroves, Middle-Eastern caves and Vietnamese streams; visitors will be able to look into the ‘engine room’ of the breeding centre and see whole life cycles of threatened species.”

As well as fish, visitors will encounter the wildlife that scuttle alongside the water’s edge. Endangered Chinese crocodile lizards will roam around a Vietnamese-inspired stream habitat, while Mexican red-kneed tarantulas will most likely be spotted keeping cool around the Mexican desert spring. 

ZSL Whipsnade Zoo’s new Aquarium opens on Friday 26 July, and entry is included in the Zoo entry price.

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Aquarium at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo

ZSL Whipsnade Zoo opens the UK’s first Aquarium dedicated to conserving the world’s most astonishing and endangered freshwater fish