Check Off Your #SHARKSUMMER Bucket List at Adventure Aquarium this July and August!

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Summer has officially arrived and that can only mean one thing: SHARKS are on our minds whether we’re hitting the beach for vacation or seeing a shark sighting on the news.  Even though these apex predators reside in our oceans year-round, during the summer we grow even more curious about them.  So, why not #ExploreBeforeTheShore at Adventure Aquarium and get to know the sharks that are swimming right in your own Atlantic Ocean backyard?

This July and August, #SharkSummer will take over Adventure Aquarium and you’ll have the opportunity to get up close and personal with the largest collection of sharks on the East Coast, with some found right off the coast of New Jersey and in the Delaware Bays.

Can you pick out the Jersey native shark species in Shark Realm?  Did you know many species of sharks migrate to the Delaware Bay for their pupping (aka baby sharks!) grounds? When you explore Adventure Aquarium you’ll learn just how important these animals are to the health of our ocean and all the ways we as humans can help protect them. We bet you’ll be a #SharkSummer expert before the end of your visit!

So, what can you check off your #SharkSummer bucket list?

#1.  Dare to cross Shark Bridge presented by Horizon, the longest V-shaped rope suspension bridge in the world, where you will walk inches above the 21-foot deep Shark Realm exhibit.

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#2.  Walk through Shark Tunnel, a 180 degree view of Shark Realm, our second largest exhibit at Adventure Aquarium and home sand tiger, sandbar and nurse sharks – species all found in the Jersey Shore coastal waters.

#3.  Be daring and Touch A Shark, be thrilled to actually TOUCH and FEEL some of the most exotic sharks in the world in the Touch A Shark exhibit.

#4.  Visit Ocean Realm and meet hammerhead_finalAnchor, our great hammerhead, who is also the only great hammerhead on exhibit in the United States.

 

#5.  Learn more about sharks during our Shark Talk, where you get a chance to meet a shark expert and learn about the residents of Shark Realm, as well as ask all the shark-related questions you’ve been dying to know!

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#6.  Interact with a variety of stingray species aka close relatives of sharks.  Touch and feed them, in Stingray Beach Club. Their skin feels super smooth and their the friendliest “shark cousins” you’ll ever meet!

#7. Come face-to-face with some of the most majestic creatures roaming the seas as you watch “The World of Sharks” 3D Movie in the PSEG 3D Theater.  Included with admission, this movie takes a unique look at a variety of shark species from the Red Sea to the Pacific Ocean. Guests will marvel at the sight of a whale shark, the largest fish in the ocean, and be truly mesmerized by a friendly underwater encounter between a sea lion and a great white shark.

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#8. Show off your inner shark and have your face painted at Stacey’s Face Painting in the Rotunda. Our face painting staff will even spike up your hair to make a fin Mohawk!

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#9. Take the next step in your #SharkSummer journey, and dive in with a Shark & Ray In-Water Encounter! Snorkel alongside massive sand tiger and sandbar sharks in Shark Realm – with no glass in between. Then visit with stiSwedishFishSundaengrays, sharks close cousins, and feed them. You’ll need to reserve your spot in advance of your visit by calling our sales office at 844-474-FISH (3474).

#10. Take a bite out of a Dippin’ Dots Swedish Fish Sundae – After checking off all those bucket list items, you deserve a yummy frozen treat!  “Shark Bite” blue-raspberry flavored Dippin’ Dots ice cream and toppings, including a Swedish Fish garnish, make this sundae a tasty ending to a perfect #SharkSummer day.

 

With so many ways to #ExploreBeforeTheShore, you’ll be a verified #SharkSummer expert when you hit the beaches for vacation!  Hope to sea you soon!

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Treat Dad to an Adventure this Father’s Day

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Are you still looking for a special way to celebrate D-A-D this Father’s Day? How about a BBQ hosted by penguins?

New in 2018, Dads visiting Adventure Aquarium can experience a truly unique Father’s Day with an outdoor BBQ in our all-new Penguin Park as well as have complete access to 8,500 aquatic species as they explore the underwater world with their families.

We were really trying to think of a unique way to honor the important men in the lives of our guests for Father’s Day.  We also wanted to bring the fun outside to our new Penguin Park exhibit so the idea to host a BBQ for families was born!  Really, how cool is it to dine and dance right near our African penguins?

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The event will take place on Sunday, June 17, 2018 from 6:00 PM to 8:00 PM in Penguin Park.  Tickets, which are on sale now, are $44.99 for adults (age 13+) and $34.99 for children (Ages 2-12), and include full aquarium admission, 3D movie and Shark Bridge.  Plus, dine on a buffet the entire family can enjoy with tasty all you can eat barbecue, like delicious hamburgers, hot dogs, chicken, salads and more.  As always, kids under the age of 2 receive free admission with an accompanying adult.

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A DJ dance party to entertain kids of all ages is planned as guests will dance and dine alongside the aquarium’s colony of African penguins.  Love watching those adorable penguins waddle, swim and play? Then visit Penguin Island during the Father’s Day event, home to Adventure Aquarium’s largest colony of African penguins in its history, including the newest additions –”Philly Special” juvenile males Carson and Nick along with females Taco and Shelley. Staff can even point out their proud papa penguins on exhibit too!

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Younger guests can spend time learning through play in Explorers Cove, the nautical-themed playground in Penguin Park, equipped with a soft play pirate ship, hammerhead shark, octopus, sea stars and more while dads and moms relaxes nearby.

We don’t want any Dad to spend his special day behind the grill.  So let us do the work for you! And the best part? No cleanup!

Guests interested in attending the Father’s Day BBQ event can visit www.adventureaquarium.com for more information or to purchase tickets.

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Help Us Welcome Our Newest African Penguin Chicks!

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Taken during their morning weigh-in behind the scenes of Penguin Island on Thursday, May 17, these young penguins have already tripled their size since hatching just 5 weeks ago. (Photo Credit: Adventure Aquarium/Christy Schultz)

Today marks Endangered Species Day.  Celebrated on May 18th annually, it is the national observation of conversation efforts to protect endangered species and their habitats.  This day is also very special since we’re announcing that 2 African penguin chicks have hatched at Penguin Island this spring!

African penguins are endangered, with less than 22,000 breeding pairs left in their native South Africa.  Adventure Aquarium, along with other Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) institutions, participates in the Species Survival Plan (SSP) and we are all working to help fight the extinction of this incredible species so generations to come will be able to see, enjoy and learn from these animals.

Here are some snapshots of them during their first 4 weeks!

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We work with AZA’s African penguin SSP, a program that encourages zoos and aquariums to work together to help ensure the survival of the species through a scientifically-controlled breeding program.  Since we began working with the program in 1998, 33 African penguin chicks have been successfully bred and raised here!

With this breeding program, we are able to bolster the species population while showing kids and families these animals and educating them on how they can help them too.  Making these connections during a visit to Adventure Aquarium and that developing into a lifelong compassion for these animals, the environment and our world’s oceans is what we hope for during every guest interaction.

The proud penguin parents, Jack and Diane, welcomed two sets, also known as clutches, of chicks during the 2017-2018 breeding season. Their first clutch produced brothers Carson and Nick, which hatched on December 10 and 13, respectively, and were named after the Super Bowl Champion Philadelphia Eagles’ quarterbacks.  The second clutch announced on Endangered Species Day hatched in mid-April, with the arrival of chick one on April 16 at just 2.15 ounces (61 grams) and the second chick on April 20 at only 1.69 ounces (48 grams).

Jack and Diane have done an excellent job parenting these chicks for the past five weeks.  They are one of our most successful breeding pairs and continue to demonstrate that with the arrival of these new chicks.

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These two babies are growing fast! This photo was taken on Thursday, May 10 – just 3 weeks after hatching! (Photo Credit: Adventure Aquarium/Christy Schultz)

The young penguins are doing well and growing fast.  When the chicks first hatched just weeks ago they weighed around two ounces each, the approximate weight and size of a golf ball, but have each grown to weigh roughly the same weight as two and a half footballs and nearly tripled in size.  The chicks eat small whole fish just like the adult birds including silversides, smelt, anchovies, trout and capelin. Young penguins usually eat more than some of the adults at about 15-20 fish per day.

Penguins grow extremely fast and in just a few months, these baby penguins will be the size of fully grown African penguins.  At that point, they will start attending “penguin school” to help them transition into being members of our adult colony of birds.

In order for the penguin chicks to learn how to acclimate with the colony at the Aquarium, staff must take over caring for them when they are able to eat small but whole fish and are more physically developed and mobile.  The birds need to learn how to eat from human hands, associate fish with the feed bucket and learn to be social with the keepers, which are all important steps to becoming part of the group.

The pair of chicks will remain behind the scenes to allow them time to grow larger in size as well as develop their waterproof plumage before eventually being introduced to the colony in the Penguin Island exhibit later this summer.  As the chicks mature, there will be some opportunity for Adventure Aquarium visitors to see them in the coming months.  As the young birds progress and grow, staff may bring one of the chicks out from the Penguin House area following African penguin feeds, dependent on weather.

The chicks’ genders are currently unknown with blood tests to be conducted when the penguins are older.  A naming contest will be held later this summer in which guests will have the opportunity to vote on names for these new additions.  Details will be shared in the coming weeks so be sure to check back right here for info!

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Chick #1 just a week after hatching! (Photo Credit: Adventure Aquarium/Christy Schultz)

COMING THIS JUNE: THE MARKETPLACE

We are happy to announce that the Marketplace, an all-new dining experience, will be opening in June of 2018. We mentioned it earlier in the year at our “What’s new at AAQ” event in February, but its finally starting to take shape. If you have been here in the past few weeks, you may have noticed the construction walls go up – things are happening. This $2,000,000 project will effectively change the entire culinary landscape of Adventure Aquarium and we are excited to share it with all of you.

The all-new eco-friendly dining experience will feature an open concept kitchen with a sleek and modern design accompanied by warm, rustic touches.

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In an effort to ease congestion and provide a more immersive, personalized food experience, the entire area will be divided into different stations:

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  • Made-to-Order Grill – Serving hot off the grill, juicy burgers, crispy chicken sandwiches, Baja Grilled Fish Tacos and other seasonal delightsGRILL
  • Deli Station – Featuring artfully-crafted wraps, sandwiches and salads
  • Pizza and Hot Sandwich Station – Featuring artisan pizzas, including a featured chef’s specialty pie, and paninisPIZZA & DELI SERVERY

We know what you’re thinking, “This is great but tell us more about the food!”.  The fresh-to-order, seasonal menu will feature authentic, local cuisine and hand-crafted food with an eco-conscious mindset. Some of the tantalizing highlights to the menu include:

  • Dave’s Crispy Chicken Sandwich – Crispy chicken with a Sriracha mayo spread, pickles and slaw on a toasted rollAAQ-00456_Marketplace_Facebook-1200x900-sandwich
  • Personal Artisan Pizzas – Margherita, Buffalo Chicken and Pepperoni with a monthly featured pieAAQ-00456_Marketplace_Facebook-1200x900-pizza
  • Fresh, Featured Salad, Sandwich as well as made-to-order optionsAAQ-00456_Marketplace_Facebook-1200x900-salad
  • Baja Grilled Fish Tacos – Chili-lime Seafood Watch-approved grilled fish over a bed of crispy cabbage topped with pico de gallo and lime cremaAAQ-00456_Marketplace_Facebook-1200x900-tacos

There is a lot more to tell you about the Marketplace but we can’t do it all in one blog post. Stay tuned for updates about our sustainability practices, rotating restaurant stations like Taco Del Seoul and Olilo by Cat Cora, and coffee. Yup, that’s right – we have some news about coffee coming soon…

SIDE NOTE: If you’re visiting before the Marketplace opens this June, you might be wondering about food services during your visit.  Not to worry! We’re still offering a variety of food and drink options in the meantime, including grab-and-go stations, our brand new hot and fresh Donut Cart, Dip ‘N’ Dots Cart and more!  Please check our website prior to visiting for the latest updates and offerings.

Make Mother’s Day Weekend an Extra Special Adventure!

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Looking to add some adventure to this Mother’s Day weekend? Look no further! With special themed programming, promotions and penguins, Adventure Aquarium is a one-stop shop for all things mom this Mother’s Day.

AAQ-00442_MothersDay_FeaturedPenguin-15.5x23We can’t wait to honor moms, both human and penguin alike, this Mother’s Day weekend in some very special ways. Not only will moms receive a special button featuring two of our newest African penguins, Nick and Carson, but they’ll also see them join the colony on exhibit at Penguin Island and learn more about how penguin moms care for their little ones, including the three penguins pictured: Taki, proud mom to daughter, Taco; Diane, mother to sons, Carson and Nick; and Minnie, mama to Shelley.

 

 

 

Speaking of these penguin babies…Carson, Nick, Taco and Shelley, the newest members of the largest colony in the Aquarium’s history, will make their official debut this Mother’s Day holiday weekend!

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Special commemorative “Philly Special” African penguin Carson and Nick buttons
will be given to all moms upon entry on Saturday, May 12 and Sunday, May 13, while supplies last.Button 1 The adorable button features the “Philly Special” African penguins, Nick and Carson, who, along with female penguins Taco and Shelley, will make their official debut that weekend on exhibit in Penguin Island.

Special programming will also be featured at both Penguin Island and Little Blue Beach as Aquarium staff gives Mother’s Day-themed talks throughout the weekend. A Mother’s Day Show Guide will also feature “mom facts” along with the featured, themed guest programming.  During their visit, kids can stop by a Mother’s Day craft table in the Blue Mile to create a colorful penguin-themed card for their mom.

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A hot Starbucks coffee and fresh, eight mini donut combo just for mom will be served for a limited time for just $6.99 at the Aquarium’s Donut Cart, located near the Hippo Haven entrance. Still looking for a gift for mom and grandmom? Head to the Gift Shop for a buy one, get one “Adventure Aquarium Moroccan Style Penguin or Turtle mug” promotion for just $14.99, while supplies last.

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With so many ways to treat mom this Mother’s Day, Adventure Aquarium is the obvious choice to celebrate this very important lady in your life.  See you this weekend!

Penguin Park: Explore. Play. Connect.

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Our African penguins are back on exhibit after a year-long refurbishment, and we couldn’t be more excited to welcome them back.  Penguin Park is a project that we at Adventure Aquarium have been dreaming about for years and we are thrilled to finally share this outdoor space with all of you. Let me give you a little backstory.

As you know, Adventure Aquarium has always been committed to the welfare and stewardship of our animals, particularly as an AZA-accredited institution. Fundamentally, we settled on the idea of using this outdoor space as a place to explore, play and connect. We wanted to make Penguin Island more interactive for the largest colony of African penguins in our history and more engaging for our guests. With a new rock formation and more interactive water features, the penguins would be able to dip and dive with ease. And with a re-vamped underwater viewing area and more penguins in the water, guests would get closer to more of these amazing animals than ever before.

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Before and after renovations of the exhibit

While the front of the exhibit that our guests see definitely changed, a majority of our work was done behind the scenes. We added a 40-square foot  building, doubling the square footage from the previous Penguin House, and added an indoor pool, one-of-a-kind nesting areas for our penguin pairs to encourage comfort while nesting, a penguins-only ramp for entering and exiting the exhibit, upgraded our filtration system to switch to salt water, added a separate food prep kitchen, and heated the decking the penguins walk on inside the exhibit to better control their climate.

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Much like a heated floor in your bathroom or driveway, we added all of the extra features when designing this exhibit. While this may be mostly behind the scenes, we are working on ways to pull this story through to our guests, because it is important to us.

As the project continued to grow into a reality, we decided to include a soft play area next to Penguin Island for young minds to explore. We aptly named it Explorers Cove. We thought, “If this is truly a place to explore, play and connect for our penguins than it should be the same for our young guests.” The addition of a soft play area doubles down on our commitment to making this a family-friendly area where our guests can enrich their day.

When all was said and done, we put all of our ideas down on paper and what we saw was a park.  A park is a gathering place for families outdoors situated in your neighborhood or local community, but ours had  actual penguins! So we added additional outdoor seating and named the space Penguin Park. Penguin Park is a place where guests can learn about penguins as our colony only continues to grow (the penguins you will see starting March 24th will be Adventure Aquarium’s largest colony yet at 38 birds) and have a picnic while your children play close-by. We hope that this space will be a great spot for our guests to create lifelong memories.

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We can’t wait for your family to visit Penguin Park and explore, play and connect not only with our African penguin colony but with each other as well.

Four Birds Join AAQ African Penguin Team

Meet our Newest Chicks!

Adventure Aquarium welcomed four new hatchlings this winter and the hype around these Birds is pretty crazy already.

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Please give a warm welcome to the newest additions to the African penguin team, which also happens to be the largest colony in Adventure Aquarium history at 38 birds!

 

Hello, Taco

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Taco, the eldest chick, hatched on November 20, 2017, and received her name from a fun combo of her parents’ names, Taki and Tatu.  She is just days from officially graduating from chick to juvenile stage, meaning she’s lost most of her fluffy down feathers for silvery waterproof plumage.  Taco has even had a few swimming lessons and has taken to water nicely.  At roughly 2.5 ounces, she was also one of the largest chicks to hatch at Adventure Aquarium.

Meet Shelley

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Little miss Shelley is the daughter of Minnie and Kamikaze.  She hatched on December 4, 2017 and, unlike Taco, she was one of the smallest chicks ever to hatch at Adventure aquarium, weighing just 1.6 ounces.  Shelley was named in honor of a dear friend and colleague of Adventure Aquarium who recently passed away.

Say hello to Carson and Nick

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And finally, Carson and Nick, brother penguins who hatched on December 10 and 13, respectively, to parents Diane and Jack, were named after the Super Bowl Champion Eagles’ two star quarterbacks.

“During our recent breeding seasons, we’ve been fortunate to have many chicks hatch but they were all females,” said Michele Pagel, Curator for Birds and Mammals at Adventure Aquarium.  “When these two hatched, we found out their genders were male after a DNA test.  Once the Eagles were Super Bowl bound we knew we had to honor the team in some way and this seemed like a perfect opportunity given that they’re brothers.”

Carson, who weighed 2.3 ounces at hatching, is a very timid penguin chick and is learning his way around. Nick, who weighed 1.98 ounces when he hatched, is a bit bolder than his brother and is very curious about the world around him.

The four chicks made their official debut at the annual What’s New at AAQ event earlier this week.  For now, they will remain behind the scenes to allow them time to grow larger in size as well as develop their waterproof plumage before eventually being introduced to the colony in the Penguin Island exhibit, which is set to reopen this spring.

Penguin Park: Opening Spring 2018

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Speaking of reopening in the Spring…Penguin Park, a newly reimagined outdoor experience, will be open for guests visiting Zone B in just a few weeks.  Penguin Island, home to the largest African penguin colony in Adventure Aquarium history, will welcome the birds back on exhibit, which will feature a shade structure and rocky beach areas mimicking the environment the species would encounter in the wild.

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Explorer’s Cove, an outdoor softplay area for younger guests to enjoy, will feature seven nautical-themed structures and also feature a shade structure for those particularly sunny days.  Families will also be able to relax and enjoy snack or lunch in a new outdoor seating space surrounded by manicured landscaping.