I've lived in Hot Springs for 11 years now, after moving as a kid from Fort Worth where my father worked at the Zoo for sixteen years. I know more than a little about aquariums and zoos, and this place is really really neat. I go maybe twice a year, and it's always exciting.
First off, it costs six bucks a person. Little Rock Zoo costs around ten (in the off season) and places like Memphis or St. Louis Zoos will be around thirty dollars. I don't know where some folks get off complaining about the price.
Secondly, the tanks are all very clean, the animals are all very well fed and energetic. Their African Spurred Tortoise that they let have free run of the place is a real character. She always ends up following me around. They have piranhas, an alligator, a really cool little shark, but no snakes (to my personal disappointment, but some folks feel differently).
The difference between this place and say Memphis Zoo is only in scale. Where they have truly huge tanks and exhibits, the National Park Aquarium has really neat little creatures with very distinct personalities. The setting is much more intimate than a large zoo, so you can really get to know the little 'critters.' If you only spend fifteen minutes in this place, you're doing it wrong!
The family that runs the place definitely know what they're doing, and seem to be pretty friendly people. They're always willing to take a moment to answer your questions (sometimes at great length) and are really friendly about letting people watch them work, feeding or cleaning or whatever, explaining what they're doing and why. It's a really authentic little place, and I imagine it's a blast to work there.
I can only guess the people giving this place one star aren't really animal people.
After reading the reviews I was a little skeptical about touring the aquarium. I must tell you we thoroughly enjoyed it. It is rather small but very clean, no dirty tanks, or foul smell. The owner was very nice. Said they had bought the aquarium a while back & were working on improving it. My camera battery was dead so she suggested we come back the next day & take all the pictures we wanted. The tortoise was worth it all to my grandson who is a "turtle lover". You could pet his head & even under his head. He was very unique. Don't let the reviews scare you away. Try it for yourself !! Would go again.
I didn't expect much when I went in and it lived up to that. It wasn't a bad place, the animals they had were taken care of well enough. My 2 yr. old daughter seemed to really enjoy it. Kinda dark inside, made for bad photos lol. There were not any sick and dying animals as I have read, that is a farce. Overall it just didn't seem to be big enough for the amount it costs to get in. No need to return there as I have seen everything inside twice by walking around and around.
This place is obviously just barely getting by--or really isn't, as far as we could tell--and the people who run it clearly couldn't care less about the animals. Tragic! We won't be going back, that's for sure.
I am always skeptical about animal exhibits so I was really curious when I came to the aquarium. I have a biology degree and consider myself somewhat knowledgeable on animal husbandry. I was very pleased with the aquarium. All of the animals were in very clean enclosures and there were no dead or dying animals. There was no fowl smell and the sulcatta tortoise was walking around freely. They were in the process of feeding the reptiles and it appeared they were being fed well. As with any animal you can not leave food in an enclosure as it attracts insects. This may be why there is not a constant food supply in the enclosures. I definitely recommend this attraction to anyone looking to kill time in Hot Springs as the price is fair and the gift shop is also reasonably priced. The owners were also very nice and told me they had just purchased the aquarium from the previous owner. Over all this is well worth the time.
Wow, after reading those last few reviews I feel like I must have visited a different place. It was a tremendous disappointment to me and my wife. We had a few hours to kill in Hot Springs, and wandered in just by chance. We were shocked by the smell, the decaying exhibits and the "information sheets" that were obviously printed off the Web by kids. Those animals sure weren't healthy or happy, either. "Amazing"?? Far from it. We won't be back, I can tell you that.
My wife and I were visiting some friends who recently moved to Hot Springs. We were exploring downtown and found this quaint looking aquarium between some of the bathhouses and decided to check it out. I wasn't expecting much from the size of the building (fairly large but not as much as you'd expect for an aquarium).
We were pleasantly surprised to find an excellent selection of animals - many of them exotic - and really enjoyed our visit. It was recently under new management who were in the process of remodeling and fixing up what the previous owners had left in bad disrepair. Excellent job so far, and I'm sure it will look even better next time!
We had been to the aquarium several years ago. Since it had been awhile and we needed something to do, we decided to go back. We were pleasantly surprised. There was a wide variety of exhibits, ranging from exotic fish to reptiles from everywhere. My kids loved it and learned a lot! My daughter was especially excited about seeing the tortoise. The exhibits were clear and clean. I was really amazed at the variety for a city the size of Hot Springs. I have and would recommend it to my friends.