BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) — A new attraction is making its way to the Mall of Louisiana in the Capital City. Offering a unique experience, Blue Zoo Aquarium will feature salt water tanks, mermaid shows, starfish petting, a pirate ship, reptiles and more.
Founder and CEO Wes Haws, said the stingray touch pool is by far the most popular attraction at his other two locations (in Spokane, Washington and Oklahoma City, Oklahoma). He said he expects the same in Baton Rouge. “Stingrays are like puppy dogs, they just love to be interacted with and played with,” said Haws.
Blue Zoo will be housed in the largest mall in the state and occupy the old Hollister storefront near Dillard’s downstairs. The 16,000 square foot attraction also features a parakeet room, which Haws said will serve as home for 300 to 400 birds. “We have a double set of doors going in and out. You get to go in there and feed the birds,” said Haws.
Blue Zoo Aquarium is an interactive experience with a focus on families and school field trips. “I think you get everything that you have in a regular public aquarium with a little bit more,” said Haws. “We have a lot more interaction. We have a lot more things for kids to do.”
Shopping malls have been losing foot traffic for years as people turn to e-commerce. A report by Business Insider predicted about one in four malls will close by the year 2022.
“Malls are changing. Not only are people buying things online, but people our generation and younger, are looking for experiences,” said Haws. “They’re not buying as much stuff. They want a Facebook photo to share with friends.”
Haws’s hope is that Blue Zoo will serve as a unique experience for families and draw them back into retail centers.
Blue Zoo Aquarium at the Mall of Louisiana is on track to open at the beginning of April, according to a company spokesperson.
“What is most important to me is that a family comes in here and has a good time but also learns something. If we educate and inspire a child here in Baton Rouge, they could some day go out and become marine biologists and change the world,” said Haws.
Annual passes are on sale now with early-bird pricing that reflects a 30 percent discount. Blue Zoo also has a designated party room for corporate events, birthdays, baby showers and more.