Stingrays, octopuses and sharks—oh, my! When Blue Zoo opens its doors inside the Mall of Louisiana this Thursday, April 1, visitors will be able to immerse themselves in an underwater adventure with all kinds of ocean animals.
Founder and CEO Wesley Haws started Blue Zoo in 2019 in Spokane, Washington. From there, he hoped to bring Blue Zoo to malls across America. The Baton Rouge aquarium is the third location for the brand.
“The malls have space and need to bring back traffic,” Haws says.
Haws and his team made the decision to bring Blue Zoo to town about a year ago, and they started construction around October 2020. The 16,000-square-foot attraction took over the spaces once occupied by Hollister Co., Gameware and Nawlins Sports.
Customers should have no problem finding Blue Zoo in the mall. Bright blue windows line the corner where Blue Zoo is located. As soon as visitors enter, they’re surrounded by vibrant colors in rooms that are underwater- or rainforest-themed.
Huge fish dart back and forth in towering tanks. Some of the creatures swimming by include stingrays, jellyfish, octopuses and seahorses. There are also birds and reptiles to observe. The main attraction, however, is the 40-foot shark tank filled with blacktip sharks.
A sprawling gift shop provides opportunities to take home a plush version of your favorite aquarium creature.
The main goal of Blue Zoo, Haws says, is to be interactive, especially for younger customers.
“The difference between us and larger aquariums is that there’s a lot more interaction here,” Haws says. “There’s a lot more for the kids to do here.”
Not only can you observe the creatures, you can get to know them some of them up close, too.
Touch pools are filled with marine life like starfish and stingrays. Blue Zoo has other attractions like a 40-foot pirate ship with slides, water and science tables, and squirt guns. Customers will also be able to participate in activities like exploring birdcages and holding starfish.
And the activities don’t stop there. Blue Zoo has four shows a week: a mermaid show, where kids can take pictures with mermaids; a pirate show, where visitors can watch a choreographed sword fight; a dive show, where divers will answer questions from guests; and a live shark feed.
“It’s about giving kids the ability to connect with nature and animals,” Haws says. “They could be the kids saving our planet one day.”