Vince Covino and his brother Ammon Covino are planning to open their second aquarium at 16323 SE McLoughlin, in Milwaukie with a soft opening December 10 through 14, 2012. They are hoping to replicate their success with the aquarium they opened in Boise, Idaho in December 2011. Both aquariums are planned for children.
The brothers acquired the 11,000 square foot Black Angus Steakhouse which sits on a two acre lot. The building had been empty for several years and extensive remodeling was required, not just to convert the building from a restaurant to an aquarium, but also to repair damage from a suspected arson.
Currently, season passes are selling for half of the normal price. Season pass holders will have unlimited visiting privileges. The aquarium will be open from 10 am to 8 pm daily. In addition to the normal activities, it will also host several types of special events. There will be sleepovers, both public and private for special occasions. Behind the scene tours will familiarize you with how the tanks and water are maintained, how the food for various animals is prepared, and allow you to ask questions of one of the Aquarists. Intimate Encounters with either an octopus or a puffin provide an opportunity to become better acquainted with these creatures.
This aquarium is designed with children in mind. With only a couple of exceptions all the exhibits will be hands-on. Children will be encouraged to touch stingrays, starfish, and anemones. They can allow fish to eat out of their hands. In addition to the marine exhibits there will be a play area with slides and a jungle gym. A rain forest room will include exotic birds and frogs. Two tortoises are already adjusting to their new home, and may lay eggs at some point in the future. Volunteers come and play with the Lorikeets so they don’t get lonely.
The Covino brothers have hired local people as much as possible for the renovation. Most of the construction crew is local, as is the person who designed the sign for the aquarium. The general manager, Steve Blair is the former assistant curator of an aquarium in California. It is predicted that the aquarium will provide employment for between thirty and forty local people.
The aquarium’s website is up and provides information on tickets and other details. There is a short video of children interacting with animals in several exhibits, presumably from the Boise aquarium. You can check out the website at http://portlandaquarium.net. The aquarium’s Facebook page (http://www.facebook.com/portlandaquarium) is fascinating. It includes updates and lots of pictures.
The Portland Aquarium will be an amazing place for children, and adults, to visit. With 16,966 Facebook friends and plenty of enthusiastic comments, the aquarium is on its way to becoming a very popular attraction. Vince and Ammon Covino have discovered a secret formula for successful aquariums.