AUSTIN -- The sounds of excited children filled the Austin Aquarium Sunday morning.
Children reached into tanks filled with fish.
"One felt like so slippery," said eight-year-old Emanuel Barrera.
Guest were able to pet an iguana, feed lorikeets and get up close and personal with a macaw.
"It's an interactive facility, basically yes. You get to touch everything," said General Manager Peter Covino.
Covino says right now, about 100 new fish are added into the aquarium every day, so with each visit, guest can see something new.
"It's pretty awesome," Barrera said.
Parents agree, saying it's unlike any other place they've been able to take their children in Austin.
"It's nice that we actually got to see and touch some of the animals and she got to splash in the water," said Mollie Gray, who brought her two-year-old daughter Hailey to the opening.
"This is great for them," added Roberta Danielson, who was there with her four-year-old son Gabriel. "And they do have great people that teach all about the fishes and how to touch them so it's really wonderful."
Bringing the aquarium to Austin hasn't been without its share of controversy including protest, allegations the owners mistreated animals at aquariums in Idaho and Oregon and permit battles. Managers say City of Austin officials prohibited owners from bringing animals in at certain times because of occupancy rules, so even now, there are some empty tanks.
Managers say they are just staying positive.
"This is a family place, you bring your families here. If you stay here for a while you'll see this place will be mobbed with children and they love it here," said Covino.