NEWPORT, Ky. -- After a couple weeks of dropping intriguing hints, the Newport Aquarium announced Monday that a new exhibit called Stingray Hideaway is coming to the Levee in the aquarium's most extensive investment in the last decade.
A news release from the aquarium says the exhibit will be "the only stingray experience of its kind in North America" when it opens in May. The highly interactive new exhibit will allow guests to discover one of the ocean’s most mysterious animals from above and below the water’s surface and even the opportunity to touch them.
“When Stingray Hideaway opens, it’s quickly going to become a guest favorite,” said Eric Rose, Newport Aquarium executive director. “Anytime our guests are able to experience what it feels like to touch an animal, a personal relationship is built that leads to a lifetime of love and respect for those animals.”
Stingray Hideaway is the biggest development at Newport Aquarium since Shark Bridge opened in 2015. When it opens this summer, the 6,000-square-foot signature attraction’s soaring 40-feet high atrium ceiling will allow sunlight to filter down on the wide-open, expansive area of tropical habitats below. The project represents a major investment in the aquarium of more than $1 million.
Highlights of the new experience include a 17,000-gallon stingray touchpool where guests can interact with two dozen stingrays. Among the most innovative of elements, the touchpool will feature a 30-feet long tunnel where kids and adventurous adults will be able to see stingrays swimming from below the touchpool’s surface, effectively allowing them to enter the stingrays’ underwater world. Another special feature is a touch area for smaller children to get up close to several juvenile sharks at their level. Rounding out the experience, guests will be able to explore the tropical island habitat around the touchpool featuring land-dwelling creatures like iguanas and lizards.
The extensive project will transform the space previously occupied by Canyon Falls, which closed in December. Stingray Hideaway: Enter Their World will be open year around and will be included with general admission.
In conjunction with Stingray Hideaway, WAVE Foundation at Newport Aquarium is expanding its outreach efforts, with a new outreach vehicle and a new state-of-the-art mobile stingray outreach cart – the only one in the country.
“By having these new outreach tools, WAVE will more than double its ability to serve more than 100,000 community learners annually, serving youth and community members in need who may not be able to visit the aquarium,” said Scott Wingate, executive director of WAVE Foundation.