Otters Kick Off a Big Spring at the Newport Aquarium

The visitors wanted otters and so the Newport Aquarium found two to live in the new Canyon Falls. The two Asian small-clawed otters named "Neda" and "Chop" will be taking over a space that opened last year devoted to turtles. The slower, more contemplative animals will move into other exhibits in the aquarium so the otters can have top billing.

The redesigned exhibit is just one of the crowd pleasing ideas debuting this spring. In April, visitors will get the chance to walk across, "the only suspension bridge in North America where guests can walk just inches above nearly two dozen sharks." The bridge adds a new dimension to the 385,000 gallon tank devoted to displaying at least 15 species of sharks including sand tiger sharks, black tip sharks and nurse sharks . The species list will get a bit longer in April when the aquarium adds a several scalloped hammerhead shark, giving it the largest exhibit in North America.

Animals, though, are only part of the lineup. In October, the aquarium run by the Herschend Family Entertainment Corporation promises that the Weeki Wachee Mermaids will return and they'll be joined in December by Scuba Santa. Will they swim in the tank with sharks? The aquarium's web site only promises that more details are coming.

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