The acuario de Mazatlán (aquarium) is a great place for a family to spend a few hours. It is a combination aquarium, zoo, and botanical garden, with several live shows during the day.
I will admit that I had some concerns prior to my visit about what the aquarium would be like and how the animals would be treated, but my prejudice was unfounded. I have been to aquariums and zoos in Canada where the conditions were nowhere near this good. While I found some of the enclosures small, the animals were all well taken care of, with plenty of fresh food, water, shade, and stimulation.
Entry to the aquarium is 100 pesos for adults or 70 pesos for children, a fantastic deal, especially if you take in at least one show.
You buy your ticket from a disembodied voice. Seriously. The ticket booth has a mirrored surface and you cannot see the attendant. You then take your ticket inside and trade it for a bracelet. I was greeted in Spanish and blasted with information that I didn’t entirely grasp. I asked the attendant to please repeat herself and she instead switched the flawless English, telling me about the schedule for the shows, where to grab a tour, the location of the bathrooms, etc.
All the other staff I interacted with during my visit had a good level of English. There is rudimentary English signage throughout the aquarium, but you really do need a basic level of Spanish to get the full experience and read all the informational placards. That said, I still think you can get a lot for your 100 pesos if you don’t speak Spanish.
You start in the building that houses the aquarium proper. It’s well done, but nothing spectacular, with tanks holding different varieties of fish and other critters, and a few small exhibits about boats, shellfish, fishing traps, coral, and a few other things.
Then, you go outside to visit the botanical garden, aviaries, zoo, another building with more fish, and a few other exhibits.
I arrived at 10:45 and there was a sea lion show at 11:00, so I went right there from a very quick inside tour (returning to the inside exhibits later). The sea lion show area was covered and had heaps of seating.
Interestingly enough, a sea lion in Spanish, like in French, is a sea wolf.
The show was really fun! The sea lions seemed to be enjoying themselves and it was obvious that the trainer has genuine affection for them. The only thing I disliked was that the commentary was done with a background of very loud music so I could barely hear anything, even when they said things in English.
At one point, the commentator asked the audience where they were visiting from and pointed to me. I said, “Canada,” and he switched to English to ask me where in Canada. I replied, “Saskatchewan,” and he wowed me by asking closer to Saskatoon or Regina!
Pictures really can’t do justice to this show, so I’ve included a video with highlights from it at the end of the post.
After the sea lion show, I wandered the grounds.
I’m pretty sure I saw the first ostrich of my life. Wow, their heads really are disproportionately small compared to their bodies!
There was another, small, building with fish tanks. I think they might sometimes have sharks there, but there were none today.
The crocodiles were amazing. They look like they are carved from rocks. I spent a lot of time just staring at them. The video at the end of the post shows one moving to a warmer spot.
I think this might have been my first time seeing peacocks in North America, and very likely my first time seeing coloured ones (I saw albino ones at Scone Palace in Scotland). The plumage is stunning, but the birds are actually quite unattractive.
I could have taken in a bird show, with trained parrots, but it didn’t interest me at all, so I skipped it. They have a third type of show, but I didn’t catch of what and it wasn’t running today.
There was a small display with snakes and frogs that I enjoyed but for the fact that the glare made it difficult to see things. I’ve never seen so many boa constrictors in one place and there were babies, too!
All told, I spent a solid 90 minutes at the aquarium. I could have easily added an hour to that by taking in the other two shows (if the third had been running).