Daily News-Sun, Nick Cote, Associated Press
SUN CITY, Ariz. — Monsters have invaded Wildlife World Zoo & Aquarium in Litchfield Park this month.
Or rather, the zoo welcomed several monsters to their new home, a fourth aquarium exhibit featuring creatures from the Amazon River.
Josh Jarnagin, an education curator with Wildlife World Zoo, said the staff has been anxious to open the new exhibit.
"We've been telling people about this for a while," he said. "Especially with our regular members, they keep asking, 'When is it going to open? When is it going to open?' It's been a long time coming and we're so happy to finally open it up."
Jarnagin said he expects one of the more popular new inhabitants to be the Asian Small-Clawed Otters. There are three adults and six babies, he said, and they are irresistibly adorable.
"We're very excited about them," he said. "There is an indoor and an outdoor portion to this exhibit, and a viewing area where you will be able to see them while they are under water, which should be very cool."
But what about those river monsters? The featured aquarium is full of them: arowana, arapaima, payara (also known as the vampire fish), some of which will grow to enormous size.
"Some will be huge, yes," Jarnagin said. "We're talking 500 pounds and 10 to 12 feet in length."
The biggest attention-grabber of all, however, is likely to be Tex, the Kemp's Ridley Sea Turtle. Tex was originally an inhabitant of the Gulf of Mexico before he was attacked by a shark and suffered damage to his flippers.
"It was determined that he had too much of his flippers missing and he was deemed unreleasable," Jarnagin said. "So we brought him here and we really think he's going to be great for us. He's very friendly. He swims right up to the glass all the time. He's a great ambassador for the new exhibits."
There are many more exhibits to see, of course, from fish to rays to one aquarium with no animals at all used to showcase coral reefs and how their ecosystems function.
Wildlife World Zoo & Aquarium is open seven days a week, 365 days a year, including all holidays. Zoo exhibits are open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., with the last zoo admission at 5 p.m.
Aquarium exhibits are open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Information from: Daily News-Sun, http://www.dailynews-sun.com/
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