AUSTIN -- The countdown is over for the grand opening of the Austin Aquarium. The aquarium opened Thursday at 10 a.m. for pass holders.
The facility has been in the news in the months ahead of the big day with some legal problems.
Thursday morning saw a lot of hustle and bustle beyond the aquarium's doors as crews prepared for the opening.
The displays include stingrays, eels, exotic fish, large turtles, birds, sharks and even an octopus. Owner Vince Covino says the aquarium is designed to be educational and entertaining for both children and adults.
The City wants to make sure that the animals are all safe and legal, so the Animal Advisory Committee voted to start a task force. It will investigate just how much power the City has under the law to get involved in the operations at the aquarium.
The aquarium owners tell KVUE they are doing everyhting they can to make sure the aquarium is safe and up to code.
"We feel like the husbandry procedures that we have are as good as anything in the industry, but we have to continue to improve. We have to continue to work hard to make sure that we're doing everything we possibly can to provide a healthy and a safe environment," said Covino.
It's been a long road for the Covino family with permit battles in Austin and allegations of poor animal management at the family's other aquariums in Oregon and Idaho. Just weeks ago one of the former owners admitted to illegally shipping protected animals between states and will spend a year in prison.
The owners tell KVUE 10,000 passes have been sold to the aquarium. It will open to the general public on Dec. 22. Go here for more information.