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Downtown Aquarium

The Downtown Aquarium, located in Houston, Texas, is a combination of a public aquarium and restaurant. It was created by transforming two iconic Houston buildings: Fire Station No. 1 and the Central Waterworks Building. Situated on a 6-acre (2.4 ha) site at 410 Bagby Street in downtown Houston, the aquarium features a collection of over 200 species of aquatic animals housed in 500,000 US gallons (1,900,000 L) of aquariums. Additionally, the complex offers two restaurants, a bar, banquet facilities, and various programs such as Marine Biologist for a Day, Zoologist for a Day, Sea Safari Camp, and overnight stays. The education department actively collaborates with school groups and conducts outreach programs.

Owned and operated by Landry’s, Inc., the Downtown Aquarium in Houston is accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.

In 1999, the City of Houston sought proposals for redeveloping Fire Station No.1 and the neighboring Central Waterworks plant in the 400 block of Bagby. Landry’s plan was selected in mid-2000, outpacing an alternative proposal by the Post/Cordish partnership. The Central Waterworks plant was transformed into an exhibition habitat for sharks and rays, while the main restaurant was located on the second floor of the original firehouse, which remained intact during construction.

The Downtown Aquarium officially opened its doors in 2003.

In late 2015, animal rights activists initiated a campaign against the aquarium’s white tiger exhibit. The Downtown Aquarium defended the exhibit, stating that their tigers received exceptional animal care and that the exhibit was accredited by the AZA and annually inspected by the USDA. The Animal Legal Defense Fund threatened to sue unless the aquarium closed the exhibit and relocated the tigers to a sanctuary. In response, the Aquarium invested four million dollars to construct an outdoor exhibit for the tigers in 2019.

Raul Sanchez
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