Adventure Aquarium opened its doors to the public on February 29, 1992 after five years of planning and building. The Aquarium’s first major exhibit, Open Ocean (now Ocean Realm) featured 760,000 gallons of water and more than 50 species of fish, all of which could be found off the coast of New Jersey. Thirty years later, Adventure Aquarium has grown to two million gallons of water with over 7,000 species of fish.
Join us as we look back at some of our favorite highlights from the past 30 years.
After the New Jersey Legislature approved a bill to begin construction for an aquarium (then named the New Jersey State Aquarium) in Camden, N.J., the bill was signed into law by former Governor of New Jersey Thomas Kean.
Using state funds, construction begins on the Camden Riverfront. The Aquarium was completely paid for and the state owed no money on the facility.
The charter of The New Jersey Academy for Aquatic Sciences (now known as the Center of Aquatic Sciences at Adventure Aquarium) is filed and approved to oversee the design and construction of the Aquarium as well as run its operations and drive its mission to educate.
The Thomas H. Kean New Jersey State Aquarium opened its doors to the public.
The New Jersey State Aquarium is officially accredited by the Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA). AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums meet the highest standards in animal care and welfare and provide a fun, safe, and educational family experience.
Redesigned Caribbean Currents exhibit opens.
The New Jersey State Aquarium receives the Themed Entertainment Association’s “Award for Outstanding Achievement.”
The New Jersey State Aquarium celebrates its five-year anniversary by introducing a shark mascot named “Chomp.”
Bill Nye visits the New Jersey State Aquarium as part of his Big Blue Ocean book tour. Guests filled the theater to watch Nye do a science experiment live.
Hurricane Isabel passes through New Jersey causing strong hurricane force winds and storm surges that blow the roof of the Ocean Realm exhibit.
Steiner + Associates begins leasing the facility with plans to develop what is now called the North Building. Steiner Entertainment operates the Aquarium, while the New Jersey Academy for Aquatic Sciences (now known as the Center of Aquatic Sciences at Adventure Aquarium) continues it’s educational and conservation programming.
Aquarium closes and construction begins on The North Building.
Button and Genny, the Nile Hippos, arrive from Disney's Animal Kingdom.
The Aquarium reopens as Adventure Aquarium with a new North Building featuring Shark Realm, Shark Tunnel and a Nile hippo exhibit. The reopening also includes a renovation on 75% of the original South building exhibits.
Adventure Aquarium is featured on an episode of Discovery Channel’s Dirty Jobs where host Mike Rowe helps the keepers clean up after the hippos.
Herschend Family Entertainment acquired Adventure Aquarium.
Adventure Aquarium becomes home to a blind elephant seal pup named Hope. Hope came from the Marine Mammal Care Center (MMCC) at Fort MacArthur in San Pedro, CA, which rehabilitated her after she was found blind, emaciated and stranded on a public beach in May 2007.
Adventure Aquarium was featured on an episode of ABC’s Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.
Adventure Aquarium appears on an episode of TLC’s Cake Boss with a visit from Buddy Valastro.
Herschend Family Entertainment’s President and CEO Joel Manby appears on CBS’s Undercover Boss and visits Adventure Aquarium during the episode.
Adventure Aquarium unveils a new Stingray Beach Club touch exhibit.
Anchor, Adventure Aquarium’s Great Hammerhead Shark, arrives.
Adventure Aquarium introduced “Megalodon,” a traveling exhibit.
Adventure Aquarium invites guests to meet their newest turtle residents, including Ozzy, a rescued yearling Loggerhead Sea Turtle.
Mighty Mike, a 14’ long, 800 lb. rescued American alligator, visited Adventure Aquarium as part of a nationwide exhibition to educate about the species.
Adventure Aquarium ranks amongst Travel Channel’s “Best Aquariums in the U.S. by Region” report.
Harlem Globetrotters visit Adventure Aquarium during their Philadelphia “Globetrotter Week.”
Hippo Haven is unveiled as Genny and Button’s new home featuring a 60,000-gallon pool.
Mermaids dive at Adventure Aquarium for the first time.
Adventure Aquarium welcomes a new species, little blue penguins, and unveils a new exhibit called Little Blue Beach.
Adventure Aquarium announces the grand opening of Shark Bridge, the longest rope suspension bridge in the world that goes over a shark exhibit, hung just inches above the water's surface in the Aquarium's 21-foot deep Shark Realm exhibit.
Little Blue Beach welcomed its first hatchling, Elanora, the chick of Sheila and Goose.
Piranha Falls, an Amazon experience, is unveiled featuring a multi-sensory experience of the Amazon River.
The millionth guest crossed Shark Bridge.
Jim Henson’s Splash and Bubbles visit the Aquarium.
Adventure Aquarium announces its first “Christmas Underwater” event featuring the World’s Tallest Underwater Christmas Tree and the return of Scuba Santa.
Governor Phil Murphy visited Adventure Aquarium as part of his inaugural tour of New Jersey.
Penguin Park reopens with an updated Penguin House and Explorers Cove, an outdoor soft surface recreation area for young guests that feature several soft play, nautical-themed climbing structures.
The Marketplace Cafe is revealed with a grand opening.
Adventure Aquarium becomes one of four facilities worldwide to hold AZA accreditation for 30 years.
Adventure Aquarium and Flying Fish Brewing Company open Camden Waterfront’s first-ever outdoor craft beer garden.
Baby Shark Summer kicks off with a Baby Shark(s) Doo, Doo, Doo, Doo event inviting guests to meet the Aquarium's baby sandbar sharks.
Adventure Aquarium becomes the first cultural attraction in the Philadelphia region to offer a free annual admission pass for children 2-5 years old.
Adventure Aquarium shuts down business due to the COVID-19 Pandemic.
Another little blue penguin chick is born. In honor of the COVID-19 pandemic heroes, the public names the chick Aroha, a Maori word that roughly translates to “love.”
Adventure Aquarium reopens its doors, welcoming guests back while complying with the Governor of New Jersey Executive order to limit capacity and require masks.
Adventure Aquarium ranks seventh (7th) as Best Aquarium in North America by USA Today 10 Best Readers Choice Awards.
Adventure Aquarium welcomes two Pacific blacktip reef sharks to the Ocean Realm exhibit.
Adventure Aquarium experiences a record little blue penguin breeding season, welcoming five chicks - Pixie, Siren, Fairy, Phoenix and Griffin.
Adventure Aquarium introduces The Action for Animals Audio Tour, the facilities first-ever audio tour, which is free for guests to listen during their visit and encourages conservation efforts.
Caribbean Currents is renamed Pirate’s Passage and redesigned to feature new, in-water decor.
Adventure Aquarium’s staff participates in the Plastic Free Eco Challenge, finishing seventh (7th)out of 391 teams in North America.
Camden’s Waterfront gets brighter thanks to Adventure Aquarium's newly-installed, illuminated sign that spans 118 feet across the west side of the building facing the Delaware River.
Adventure Aquarium is one of 11 AZA-accredited facilities to receive grant funding for support from the Disney Conservation Fund to partner with Camden Urban Agriculture Collaborative (CUAC) in order to give Camden residents starter garden kits to promote pollinator gardens and the importance of food security in underserved communities.
Adventure Aquarium celebrates its 30th Birthday by offering guests free admission on their birthdays, early open days for members, and raising funds for conservation efforts.
Adventure Aquarium becomes a certified sensory-inclusive venue through KultureCity. This new initiative promotes an accommodating and positive experience for all guests with sensory issues that visit the Aquarium.
Adventure Aquarium introduces a new Turtle Scouts program to get kids excited about ocean conservation.
Adventure Aquarium introduced their Scuba Tooth Fairy, who spent Shark Summer scooping up fallen shark teeth hidden in the sand of Ocean Realm.
Adventure Aquarium partnered with Visit New Jersey and renowned sand sculptor Matt Long to bring guests Super-Sized Sand Sculptures.