The Georgia Aquarium is an Atlanta, Georgia landmark and one of the largest aquariums in the world. It is located in downtown Atlanta’s Pemberton Place, along with the World of Coca Cola museum. Featuring over 100,000 fish, the Georgia Aquarium features a collection of exotic fish species, some of the largest fish on exhibit in the world, and a 4-Dimensional theater. In its first three years open, beginning 21 November 2005, the aquarium welcomed over 5 million visitors.
As an encouragement to local education, Home Depot-founder Bernard Marcus donated $250 million to the city of Atlanta to build the Georgia Aquarium. Built on 20 acres, the aquarium was built in 21 months. It featured 60 separate aquariums and habitats, a ball room, two kitchens and dining areas, a gift shop, a parking lot, a restaurant, and its renowned 4-D theater. The building is constructed in metal and blue glass in the form of a ship breaking through a wave.
The Georgia Aquarium, which charges $26 US Dollars per adult for day passes, features thousands of specimens of fish and other sea mammals. The aquarium’s most famous animals were in 2006 a set of four whale sharks, the largest living fish species in the world. The Georgia Aquarium boasts the only whale sharks in captivity outside of Asia and the only hammerhead sharks in the United States. They also have featured the only manta ray on display in the country, and have housed the enormous beluga whale on many occasions. The tanks at the Georgia Aquarium contain eight million gallons (30,000 cubic meters) of fresh and salt water that have housed up to 120,000 fish at different times.
Also serving as a conservation house, the Aquarium has housed many endangered species. The beluga whale, the Atlantic tarpon, and the cuttlefish are among the endangered species rescued and housed by the Georgia Aquarium. In addition to its exhibits and its conservation of endangered species, the aquarium features an 1100 seat theater, and a controversial “Swim With the Gentle Giants” exhibit, where twelve visitors a day can swim with their famous whale sharks.
The exhibits at the Georgia Aquarium are housed in five different venues: including the Georgia Explorer, with touch tanks featured for children; the River Scout, with rare and unusual local fish, including the piranha; the Ocean Voyager, featuring over 80 percent of the Georgia Aquarium’s fish population, and constructed to resembled a real ocean reef; the Tropical Diver, featuring the 4-D movie exhibit; and the Cold Water Quest, featuring animals from the arctic regions of the world’s oceans.