On Sunday 2 April, Exploris Aquarium welcomed its 100,000th visitor to the attraction since it re-opened to the public on 15 August 2016. The Tennant family from Ballymena arrived, unaware of their impending surprise to a fanfare of confetti and a very warm welcome by the Mayor of Ards and North Down, Alderman Deborah Girvan and the General Manager Ann Moreland. They were immediately upgraded to a VIP tour experience with Victoria McCready, Head of Animal Welfare and they enjoyed their lunch in the Craken restaurant and received a bundle of gifts from the shop.
Ann Moreland, General Manager of Exploris Aquarium said, “We are delighted that Exploris Aquarium is already proving to be so popular, attracting visitors from home and out of state. Reaching this milestone is a momentous occasion for everyone involved”, and she added “The operators, AEL are thrilled to have established this unique attraction in Northern Ireland, which has not only added economic benefit on a local and national level but is fast becoming an integral part of the education of our children in marine life and the environment of Strangford Lough”.
She continued by saying that “Exploris is continuing to add value to the visitor experience by continuous improvement and currently we are enhancing the entrance to facilitate an improved queuing system which will no doubt assist the visitors in the coming weeks and months. Additional toilets and baby changing facilities along with the addition of our soft play area and an upgrade of the restaurant with new seating will put the visitor at the heart of everything we do. Indeed we have also added to the animation across the building, ensuring that we develop our education and conservation messaging, as well as engaging all our visitors in fun activities. Last weekend we held our first evening event with the Johnny Cash tribute night, further enhancing the offering here at Exploris, in addition to the wide range of events and opportunities in the coming months.
VIP winner, Leanne Tennant said, “We were really surprised and delighted to win the VIP experience and the children have had a ball, as we never win anything! This is our first visit since Exploris has reopened and we can’t believe the new look exhibitions! The rehabilitation work that is carried out for the Seals is amazing and our children really had a fabulous time. We also loved all the tropical fish as it was so bright and colourful and not to mention the great fun they had in the soft play area! Our lunch was fabulous and the staff are so friendly and helpful – there’s so much to do we will come back again very soon!”.
Mayor of Ards and North Down, Alderman Deborah Girvan, commented:
“Since Exploris re-opened in August 2016 the centre has welcomed visitors from across Northern Ireland and further afield. It has been great to see so many people, not only enjoy Exploris, but the town of Portaferry, with its picturesque Strangford Lough location, has to offer. I look forward to welcoming many more visitors to Exploris and to the town in the future.”
In addition to the Seal Sanctuary which has rescued and rehabilitated over 500 seals to date Exploris Aquarium is also home to over 200 species and has just recently welcomed the exciting arrival of a new Asian Small-Claw Otter pup, and a fabulous iguana. foundly named Sir David Attenborough, as part of our collection.
After an extensive refurbishment, the attraction offers visitors a diver’s view of marine life from around the world as well as the chance to get hands on with native species like small shark and feeling the spikes on a sea urchin. A new themed soft play area, pollution zone and The Craken restaurant all add to the overall visitors experience for an enjoyable and educational day out.
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