If seeing hippos up close is on your family’s bucket list, you’re in luck because the only aquarium in the world where you can is at the Adventure Aquarium in Camden, NJ. If that’s not impressive enough, there’s more—this aquarium (rated #7 in the country by USA Today) also has the largest collection of sharks in the Northeast and is one of only six facilities in the United States to have Little Blue Penguins. Beyond the fantastic sea life, Adventure Aquarium has plenty of interactive fun for a day filled with activities your littles will love. You can walk above the sharks on the shark bridge or take a walk through the Shark Tunnel and have sharks surround you to the left, right, and overhead (watch for the Pacific Blacktip Reef Sharks, which are new for 2021). Ready to spend a day here? Scroll down for what you need to know before you go. And while you are in Camden, don’t miss the Battleship NJ, a top hit on our NJ Attractions to Visit This Spring, and the Camden Children’s Garden, one of our favorite 7 Butterfly Gardens in NJ To Visit This Spring.
featured image via @vikki_1110
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6 Things To Know About The Adventure Aquarium
Visit with the hippos at Adventure Aquarium
Camden Adventure Aquarium is the only aquarium on the planet where you can see huge hippos up close. The two residents—Button and Genny— come in at a whopping 3,000 pounds each and can be seen frolicking, jumping out of the water at their Hippo Haven exhibit. If you are looking for even more time with these playful hippos, upgrade your ticket and take a step behind the scenes to immerse yourself in a Hippo Encounter or support a hippo and sign-up for a Hippo Pal Adoption.
See sharks in a whole new way
Are you brave enough to take a walk over the longest, V-shaped rope shark suspension bridge in the world, all while hovering above the 21-foot deep Shark Realm exhibit? Trek over almost 30 varieties of sharks on a bridge previously reserved only for biologists—this 81-foot walk over 550,000 gallons of water is an experience the whole family will find thrilling. But if being suspended in the air over these predators sends chills up your spine, then there are other ways to see the sharks. Enter a shark’s world and take a walk through their 40-foot shark tunnel, where sharks surround you at every angle. And for more shark fun, visit the Touch a Shark tank and feel some of the most exotic sharks in the world, including the Bamboo shark.
Discover a new shark species
Adventure Aquarium has the most extensive collection of sharks in the Northeast, and they’ve just added even more. For the first time in 13 years, they’ve introduced a new species to the tank—the Pacific Blacktip Reef Sharks. These sharks can grow up to 5 feet long, and they feed on invertebrates and fish found in coral reefs. They’re usually found in the Indo-Pacific Ocean, near the Hawaiian Islands and French Polynesia, but you can view them in the Ocean Realm section at the aquarium. Look for a unique black marking on their fin to spot them.
Book an encounter with a fish or animal
What’s also great about the Camden Adventure Aquarium is that you can get up close and personal to the sea life with fish and animal encounters. Meet, feed, and learn more about Button and Genny, the 3,000+ pound Nile Hippos with the Hippo Encounter. Or waddle over to get to know the African penguins in the Penguin Pop-In Encounter. Head to the Ocean Realm for a Sea Turtle Encounter where you can train, tong-feed, and care for green and loggerhead sea turtles. Looking for more? Go behind the scenes with a Wild Things Encounter and see mammals, birds, and reptiles. Or take a guided, in-depth tour that highlights what goes into running an aquarium. Discover all there is to know about the Encounters here.
Learn about Little Blue Penguins
Little Blues are known for their striking slate-blue plumage, and their small stature has given them the nickname “fairy penguins.” They’re native to southern Australia and New Zealand, and Camden Adventure Aquarium is one of the few aquariums you can see these adorable birds in the U.S. Here are some fun facts about these blue-feathered animals: During their breeding season, the colorful boxes on the aquarium’s “Little Blue Beach” replicate nest boxes used in Australia to make a cozy nest for the expected chick. Water temperatures and the exhibit’s lighting mimic what the penguins are used to in Phillip Island, Australia. The conditions are so fine-tuned, even incorporating sounds of the laughing kookaburra to make them feel at home. Penguins stay “married” to their partner during the breeding season. Once a penguin is born, they encounter daily weigh-ins, and eventually, they will learn how to swim, and at around two months old, they rejoin the Little Blue Penguin colony. To learn more and catch a glimpse of the tiny babies, don’t miss the Penguin Park exhibit.
Reach out and touch the sea life
The whole family can get in on the interactive fun at the Adventure Aquarium with touch tanks for bright fish, seahorses, and lobster at the Caribbean Currents exhibit. Want to feel sea life for yourself? Touch slimy invertebrates, feel the texture of a seastar, watch an anemone, or learn all about a sea cucumber at the Creature Feature exhibit. Do your little ones need to let their sillies out? Bring them for a break at the KidZone to jump or crawl in this kid-sized play area. Or watch the Amazon come to life at the Piranha Falls exhibit, where glittering red-bellied piranha swims freely. Feel like you’ve escaped to the islands at the Stingray Beach Club, where kids can touch or even hand-feed Cownose Rays and Southern Stingrays, and explore Sand Castle Island with a touch pool for littles. And roll up your sleeves to feel even more amazing sea life like chocolate chip sea stars, sea apples, and scarlet cleaner shrimp at The Grotto exhibit.
What to know before you go
You can purchase tickets, an annual membership, regular membership, or gold membership to enter the aquarium. With COVID capacity limits, tickets must be purchased in advance online or by phone. Each week, Aquarium Activities are created for PreK and Kindergarten, Grades 1-3, and Grades 4-5 students to do during their visit at the aquarium; you can find information here. You can also participate in Animal Adoptions to help support various animals in the aquarium.
Cost: Adults – $31.99-$34.99, Kids $21.99
1 Riverside Drive, Camden, NJ 08103
What do you plan to see first at the Adventure Aquarium? Let us know!
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