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Portaferry aquarium Exploris will reopen in August

Published 01/07/2016

Exploris
Exploris

The Exploris Aquarium in Portaferry, Co Down, will reopen in August almost two years after it closed.

Northern Ireland's only aquarium was saved earlier this year after Ards and North Down Borough Council approved a £1.5m rescue package for the Portaferry attraction.

After undergoing refurbishment, it will open on August 15 under a new operator.

It had been shut in late 2014 as the council attempted to draw down funding from Stormont to refurbish the facility.

In September 2013, the previous Ards Borough Council voted to give it two months to find funding or face being sold off.

A number of councillors argued that at £600,000 a year to run, the aquarium was too expensive for ratepayers to retain. It had been council-run since it opened in 1987.

The decision sparked an outcry among supporters of Exploris, who staged protests outside council meetings and gathered petitions to keep the facility open.

£914,000 was secured from the Department of the Environment and the rest of the £1.5m package was secured from the council and the new operator Crumlin Road Gaol Ltd (CRG) .

The company are responsible Crumlin Road Gaol in Belfast, which has become one of Northern Ireland's top visitor attractions. It will operate the aquarium and seal sanctuary on behalf of the council.

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