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Amazingly Large Aquarium Opening in Atlanta, Georgia

The largest aquarium in the world is opening in Atlanta, Georgia. The building is more than just a giant fish tank.

As VOA's Melinda Smith reports, the aquarium is built like a ship breaking through the waves, and inside are at least 1,000 creatures representing 500 species from around the world.

Visitors say it feels like you are in an underwater paradise with hundreds of creatures swimming at you from all directions. Tiny golden fish called Travolleys… Beluga Whales… Hammerhead sharks… Sting Rays.

It is an impressive sight, says education director Brian Davis. "You can actually come face to face with piranha. You actually get to touch some Sting Rays and sharks. You get to feed shrimp instead of eat them."

The Georgia Aquarium was the idea of Bernie Marcus, a wealthy Atlanta businessman who gave this $290 million facility to the city of Atlanta. "Fish fascinate me," he said.

Bernie Marcus says the fish are well cared for. "We have a vet lab downstairs that is a full hospital. They can do a colonoscopy."

Yes, even a colonoscopy. Veterinarians are available 24 hours a day:

"Fish surgery has become much, much more routine," says Dr. Howard Krum, a veterinarian.

The Aquarium's creators have thought of everything. In case of a power blackout or emergency, the fish will be protected.

"We now have gigantic generators here, that the minute that happens it kicks in.," said Mr. Marcus.

The aquarium is expected to be a big draw for tourists. But while it is entertaining, marine biologist Robert Hueter says the aquarium is designed primarily to be educational:

"This is a living wonderful laboratory for science."