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Exploris opens floodgates to huge crowds on launch day

By Staff Reporter

The smiles on the faces of children in Portaferry yesterday said it all, as the much-loved Exploris Aquarium finally re-opened its doors.

This time last year, Northern Ireland's only aquarium had been under threat of permanent closure.

But as the cars snaked their way down the Ards peninsula yesterday morning, it was clear that the grand re-opening was proving a huge success. After a £2m refurbishment programme, Exploris - which had been closed for two years - now houses a range of new enclosures showcasing its breathtaking range of fish and aquatic animals.

More than 1,000 people visited yesterday to see colourful coral reefs before watching playful Strangford sea otters.

One of the first in the queue was MLA Kellie Armstrong, who said: "Exploris has seen a fantastic refurbishment, which showcases Portaferry as a true tourist destination and is an economic boost for the entire Ards peninsula. Credit goes to the operator, Crumlin Road Gaol Ltd, and to all those who have helped us get to this point."

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