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Bring one pair of comfortable walking shoes as well as a pair of sandals or Tevas. Before you leave home, break in your new shoes so you're not uncomfortable on the road.

Overnight at Vancouver Aquarium, BC

Canada

This could easily be the highlight of your family's trip to the Pacific Northwest, and must be planned and reserved well ahead:

NIGHT LIGHTS - VANCOUVER AQUARIUM

Take the kids on an overnight stay in an aquarium and get a behind-the-scenes look at how the animals live and actually help the aquarium keepers with feedings. Be sure everyone gets lots of rest ahead of time, because you will be up until at least 2 a.m.! Due to the hours, children must be at least 6 years old.

Although always popular, for years this program was kept a guarded secret of the Aquarium Membership's 9 to 13 year olds. Having now been featured in national television and on local news, it has been acknowledged as a very special experience. By popular demand, Night Lights is available to a wide spectrum of groups: adults, families, youth groups and school groups.

As our first responsiblity is the safety and respect of the animals, you will spend much of the night behing-the-scenes in small and personal groups.

The night begins at 9 p.m., when you arrive at the Theatre Entrance of the Aquarium. You will stash your gear, guickly get to know the rest of the group, then launch into noe of several pre-midnight activities. In subgroups, you will explore the food preparations for many of the 8,000-plus animals cared for by the Aquarium, focusing on one of 4 specific areas.

You may find yourself in the marine mammal area, finding out how much fish a growing killer whale can go through in a day, how the trainers supplement the animals' diet with multivitamins, what goes into the making of formula to feed orphan seals, what a sea otter eats that is different from the breakfast of a beluga whale. At another stop you could be whirring up squid and herring shakes to treat the filter feeding invertebrates on display. In the steamy Amazon you can assist in chopping up fruits and begetables into bite sized bits for a variety of breakfast menus of the Amazon reptiles, sloths and birds. You may even get the opportunity to help feed the seastars, crabs, anemones and other marine invertebrates of the 'Wet Lab.'

Once re-united, the four groups will be reshuffled to ensure a full tour of all food preparation areas. At each stop, the person who participated in that station earlier is now the expert and can share with his or her peers what was done, for whom, and why.

After 'midnight munchies,' including cheese, veggies and fruit, you head off into the Aquarium armed only with your courage to find out which creatures roam the galleries after dark! You may observe nocturnal behaviors of such animals as flashlight fish, green sea turtles and reef sharks!

We wrap up the evening by giving you the chance to design a souvenir pillowcase. WIth fabric paints, shells, latex models of tropical fishes, and some helpful hints, and you can turn out an amazing work of art!

Between 1 and 1:30 a.m. we will take you and your gear down through the underground heart of the the facility to emerge in one of our whale underwater viewing galleries. Here you roll out your sleeping bags for the remainder of the night by a group of majestic giants.

In the morning, if the group is not awakened by dawn filtering through the habitat, we will wake you up and lead you off for a breakfast of sweet buns, muffins, fruit, cheese (and coffee for the older set) in the quiet northern shores galleries. You will have a chance to wander the marine mammal decks during pre-viewing hours, perhaps lucky enough to catch an early morning whale exercise session or the breakfast feeding of the sea otters. You will also visit the Amazon rainforest while the birds and animals are having their early morning feed.

9 a.m. comes all too soon. You collect your pillowcass and head home (for a good long nap!).

All you have to bring to Night Lights is a mug for snack and breakfast beverages, a sleeping bag, foam padding, pillow and, of course, any personal effects.

Call for the full details.

VANCOUVER AQUARIUM
Stanley Park
P.O. Box 3232
Vancouver, British Columbia V6B 3X8
Canada
(604) 659-3474

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