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Whipsnade to open rare freshwater fish aquarium

The UK’s first aquarium dedicated to conserving the world’s most endangered freshwater fish is due to open at ZSL Whipsnade this summer.

Visitors will be able to explore ten of the planet’s most extreme and fascinating aquatic habitats, as they come face-to-face with some of the rarest and most unique fish species in existence.

The Aquarium will be home to fish which have developed astonishing abilities in order to survive in a huge range of strikingly different environments, including the dusky narrow hatchetfish, which jumps out of the water in the flooded forests of Brazil to pluck low-hanging fruit and seeds from trees.

Caribbean mangrove killifish can survive out of water for as long as 66 days, while Omani blind cave fish navigate through pitch black caves without eyes. Not only are some of the fish extinct-in-the-wild, but for some, ZSL Whipsnade Zoo is one of the only places in the world where they still exist.

ZSL Whipsnade Zoo’s Aquarium Team Leader Alex Cliffe said: “It will be the first Aquarium in the Zoo’s almost 90-year history, and it will be an incredibly vibrant, colourful, sensory experience that not only reveals the secret life of fish, but gives an insight into the conservation work underway to rescue some of the world’s most incredible fish from the brink of extinction.”

“As well as making their way around the world, through Caribbean mangroves, Middle-Eastern caves and Vietnamese streams; visitors will be able to look into the ‘engine room’ of the breeding centre and see whole life cycles of threatened species.”

As well as fish, visitors will also be able to see water’s edge wildlife such as the endangered Chinese crocodile lizards, who will roam around a Vietnamese-inspired stream habitat, and Mexican red-kneed tarantulas.

ZSL Whipsnade Zoo’s new Aquarium opens this summer, and entry is included in the Zoo entry price –

Main image: A rare species of killifish (discovered by, and named after Ian Sainthouse, a ZSL volunteer)


  1. Paul Gittins says

    When exactly is ‘this summer’ as even the Whipsnade website is not clear. There are no dates for opening of the aquarium but nothing says ‘open now’.
    Really frustrating as I don’t want to take my son all the way there to be disappointed

    • Simone Brookes says

      Hello Paul.
      Have checked with the attraction for you and the new aquarium is now set to open at the end of July, just in time for the summer holiday. Hope that helps and that you have a great time on your next visit.
      Simone, Content Editor

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