Beijing is actually home to three public aquariums, but the one I’m covering here is actually inside the Beijing Zoo, though it can be visited separately hence the separate review. It’s also big enough in its own right to warrant a separate review since it can easily occupy three or four hours of your time. It’s rather new having been open only since 2003 I believe.
The layout is one that seems to be increasingly common – a series of relatively small tanks designed to cover the variety of a given ecosystem and then a mammoth tank or two occupied by huge animals or a massive array of species. It starts in the ‘Amazon’ with the usual fare (and some nice oddities like giant salamanders) with numerous small exhibits and two large ones containing giants like arapaima and pacu and then a whole host of several hundred arowana.
We go from here to an open-top reef tank and the first major set-up – home to several dozen sharks and rays with massive windows and rather nice ‘bubble’ windows that allow you to stick your head into the tank. To the side of this area is the marine mammals hall which features just sealions and bottlenose dolphins. Though I freely concede that I’m generally not happy to see dolphins captive, they certainly have lots of room and seem to be doing well enough.
The central attraction however is the main reef tank, all three stories of it with two viewing tunnels and several huge windows. It’s filled with a large number of reef fish, turtles, big eagle rays, groups and more. It is exceptionally well constructed and unlike many tanks of this kind, has lots of smaller fish and not just the bigger ones so it really feels like a community and not just a display. Again, laid out around the main tank are numerous smaller ones with various sealife (though as elsewhere here it’s mostly just fish – not that there’s anything wrong with fish in an aquarium I should hasten to add, but the odd invertebrate beyond coral would be nice).
That’s it really. It’s pretty big, it’s pretty good, it’s pretty well set up. One major quibble would be the cost (compared to other Chinese days out it’s steep – 10 times the cost of the entry to the zoo it’s in for example) and as ever there were very few signs for anything which is always annoying. Still, well worth and afternoon of your time if you have noting better going and it certainly holds up for repeat visits.
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