What? Latin America’s largest aquarium featuring large aquariums that house sharks, manatees, dolphins and also a jungle exhibit with tropical birds.
Where? City of Veracruz in Veracruz, Mexico.
How Much? 100-200 pesos (8-16 US dollars) includes a dolphin show
A short while back I was traveling through Mexico and it just so happened that one of the cities I was staying in is host to Latin America’s largest aquarium, Acuario de Veracruz.
As soon as I found that out I knew I had to check it out.
Right off the shore the Acuario de Veracruz is combined with a shopping mall, Ripley’s Believe it or Not, a wax museum and also a Vipps (Mexico’s Denny’s equivalent).
Entering the shopping mall, a big water fountain takes the center stage with small booths and shops surrounding it. Right behind it, the entrance to the Aquarium is seen right away.
Going inside and veering towards the left it starts off with a brief jungle exhibit. A path guides people as various turtles swim in the lower lying ponds and water features. Various live plants and misting machines keep the room humid as some Parrots and a pretty cool Toucan walk around.
After the jungle exhibit, they have a circular room where they had various freshwater fish and cichlids. Not a huge selection, but the fish all looked pretty healthy.
This takes guests to the circular reef room. In the center is a seating area for visitors. On a regular basis, workers from the Aquarium give a short presentation about the animals and facility and the circular room. As the presentation is going, stingrays keep making laps in the aquarium as other fish swim around at their own leisure.
This was pretty cool actually. The fish tank itself acts as the outer wall and is a complete and connected loop. A giant “20 year anniversary” sign, decorated in reef ornaments, sits in the aquarium behind the presenter.
Exiting this room takes people to the the saltwater section where they have a fair selection of different species. Of course, the ever so popular “Nemo” and “Dory” are there. They also have probably the largest Porcupine puffer I’ve ever seen. He was like a medium sized beach ball. I was pretty impressed by that.
For the jellyfish lovers, they had an informative display set-up and a couple of tanks where you can see them all just lazily floating around.
Two giant tanks follow-up the jellies. One is their big shark tank. Different types swim around, and for people that are interested, you can pay extra to go inside of a cage and feed them from within the aquarium. (I considered it)
The second tank held their manatees. They have a rehabilitation program that they’ve been running for numerous years which is nice to see. Also, along with the manatees they do some conservation work with sea turtles. The sea turtles follow up the manatees right before the big dolphin tank.
I have to be honest, the dolphin tank was a little rough to see. Not that it was in bad condition or anything, but I personally just have a hard time putting an appropriate sized tank to animals that, in the wild, swim 40+ miles a day.
With every ticket purchase, there is a dolphin show included. I’m not sure how it was, I didn’t stay to watch.
The dolphin show was the last part of the the aquarium right before heading back into the shopping mall. Overall it was a simple and nice aquarium. I’ve been to a few different ones in the states and they were all bigger from what I remember.
The Acuario de Veracruz didn’t have any highly impressive reef exhibits (I may be biased because I worked at an exotic pet store for eight years), but the good thing is that their animals looked healthy. I didn’t notice illnesses, the fish all seemed fairly stress free and well taken care of.
Would I recommend the Acuario de Veracruz?
Yeah, I would say it’s worth the money. If you have been to any major aquariums in the states I wouldn’t set your ideas of this place too high. It’s the largest in Latin America, but still smaller than many others. Still 100 pesos ($8 at the time) is a fair price to pay.
(My entry to the Acuario de Veracruz was covered by the aquarium. For more information, check out their site at Veracruz Aquarium. All opinions are my own.)