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$45-mil aquarium expansion

The Vancouver Aquarium unveiled its expanded facilities Friday, showing off a new entrance, 360-degree digital screens and a 4.3-metre glowing blue globe with the North Pole at the bottom.

The Earth has been "turned on its head" to enable visitors to see Canada more easily and highlight the Canadian Arctic, the aquarium said.

The $45-million, 5,100-square-metre expansion is the most significant addition to the aquarium in its 58-year history, the institution said.

New B.C. exhibits include aquatic life from the Gulf Islands and a school of coho salmon.

There are also new habitats featuring animals from around the world, such as schools of cichlids from Lake Malawi in Africa, a Red Sea coral reef exhibit and a Jamaican fruit bat exhibit.

With the added features "our aim is to reach and inspire more visitors to engage with issues affecting our aquatic and ocean environments and to take personal action that will help save our ecosystems and the wildlife that depend on them," said aquarium CEO John Nightingale.

The expansion — the first of three planned phases to revitalize the attraction — also includes behind-the-scene areas, public park space, a cafe and office space.

The Canadian Press

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