December 02, 2004
The aquarium tigers

Tilman Fertitta and his Downtown Aquarium have added four white tiger cubs to their list of attractions. Having not been to the aquarium myself yet, I'm not sure how I feel about this. I'm glad to see that the article touched on the controversy that all this caused, though.

Fertitta moved forward with the tiger facility despite concerns by Houston's City Council earlier this year about the appropriateness of having wild animals at a restaurant.

"There was some (contention)," said council member Carol Alvarado, whose district includes downtown. "It was the concern of some of the City Council members to mix wild animals with a restaurant complex.

"The fact that people from the AZA (American Zoo and Aquarium Association) helped to design it and (approved) it, hopefully that will ease a lot of the concerns raised."

City Council approval, however, was only needed for a temporary permit. Long-term approval for the exhibit included getting zoo association and U.S. Department of Agriculture accreditation and meeting city building codes.

The aquarium got accreditation from the zoo association in September albeit on the basis of its aquarium, not its tiger facility and from the USDA in November. The association will send inspectors in early 2005 who will focus on the tiger exhibit.

Fertitta defends the addition of the tigers, saying the downtown facility is much more than an eatery.

"The second floor is a restaurant, the first floor is an aquarium," he said. "We're more of an entertainment company than a restaurant company."

Like Anne, I expect the tigers to do what they're intended to do - draw in customers - despite their inherent non-aquariumness. In a few months, when Olivia is walking, I'll take her there on one of my Fridays off and get a true verdict on this development.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on December 02, 2004 to Elsewhere in Houston | TrackBack

Have you taken Olivia to the zoo yet?

If you haven't consider that for a moment... you're taking your daughter to a restaurant with white tigers in it instead of the city's zoo.

We're World Class!

Posted by: Laurence Simon on December 2, 2004 1:04 PM

I, too, will gather up the kids and head to the Aquarium to see the tigers. What's one to do? They are too big an enticement.

Posted by: Anne on December 2, 2004 1:47 PM

No zoo for Olivia yet - she's still too young to appreciate it. Once she is old enough, I fully expect to take advantage of one of the perks of having children, which is the built-in excuse for doing fun stuff like that.

Posted by: Charles Kuffner on December 2, 2004 2:01 PM

The Aquarium is a restaurant that has some aquariums. Yes they are large and there is train you can take and see some sharks. It is very nice but it is still a restaurant first.

Posted by: chris on December 2, 2004 3:54 PM

One more thing

The train ride has one section where a fake shark comes out of the water and "attacks" the train and makes a REALLY loud noise. Scared the shite out of me and my 9 year old. Olivia may just stare at it. Just so you know.

Posted by: Chris on December 2, 2004 3:57 PM

We've got a controversy going out here with monkeys at a bar. It's not the first time, either. For years there was a restaurant not far from my house which had a glassed-in cage of sorts behind the bar with about a dozen monkeys inside. It had dynamite Japanese food and a lovely bonsai garden upstairs, but it failed after about 50 years of business, for reasons I still don't understand.

Posted by: Linkmeister on December 2, 2004 5:00 PM

"We're more of an entertainment company than a restaurant company."

As anyone who's ever eaten at one of his restaraunts can attest..

Posted by: Davebo on December 2, 2004 5:57 PM

We took our daughters to the Aquarium and thought it was crappy. They were scared of the weird piped-in music. There wasn't much to see for the price. The train ride was ridiculous, and on top of it, both kids cried when the stupid fake shark jumped out.

The zoo is fabulous, though. Ditto the children's museum and the butterfly center. Lots of other stuff in Houston to spend your kid-related dollars on than the disappointment that is the Downtown Aquarium.

Posted by: hope on December 3, 2004 1:53 PM

Is there anyone I can officially complain to about there being white tigers at the Aquarium; not to mention that there is no vegetation surrounding them? It's really sad that someone thought it a good idea to parade an endangered species around like circus freaks

Posted by: tiffany wade on March 2, 2005 3:13 PM