May 22, 2009

Chicago’s Oceanarium reopens

Chicago's No. 1 tourist attraction, the Shedd Aquarium's Oceanarium, reopens to the public Saturday after a nine-month $50 million face-lift, officials said.

To accomplish the upgrade, the Shedd had to drain 3 million gallons of saltwater and relocate all the Oceanarium's animals to accredited zoos and aquariums, the Chicago Sun-Times reported Friday.

It began as a project we called 'scrub the tub,' said Shedd spokesman Roger Germann. After 17 years, it was in need of a good cleaning.

Germann said the entire life-support system has been upgraded with new filters, tubes and tanks.

The underwater gallery has been redesigned as a permanent children's exhibit space renamed Polar Play Zone where kids can dress up and play like penguins in a space with slides and tunnels.

During reopening weekend, the first 100 guests each day will receive free general admission, Germann said.