Penguins and jellyfish wow visitors at new Taiwan aquarium

·1-min read
Visitors tour the Xpark Aquarium on its opening day while wearing protective masks to prevent the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Taoyuan

TAOYUAN, Taiwan (Reuters) - From lunch with the penguins to the translucent shimmer of jellyfish and gliding rays, all underwater life was on display at a new aquarium in Taiwan that opened on Friday despite the ravaging effects of coronavirus on global tourism.

It had planned to open at the end of last year, but the pandemic pushed back the launch until now, Xpark Aquarium director of sales Gu Yu said.

"(We) have been expecting Xpark to open for a long time, so we scrambled to get tickets when (we heard) it would open," said visitor Jiang Liuyu, who was given a temperature check on arrival.

A Japanese bullhead shark is to be a star attraction of a collection of 30,000 fish, drawn from more than 300 species in 13 exhibition areas, the Kyodo news agency said.

The aquarium café, which features penguins swimming through a network of transparent pipes, is also set to delight visitors.

The aquarium in northwestern Taoyuan is a joint venture of Seibu Holdings Inc., which runs Yokohama Hakkeijima Sea Paradise in Japan, and Taiwan's Cathay Life Insurance, Kyodo said.

The complex is expected to draw 1.6 million visitors in the first year and earn annual revenue of about NT$880 million ($30 million), the agency quoted an official from the Taiwan unit of Yokohama Hakkeijima as saying.

With 477 coronavirus infections and seven deaths, Taiwan has won praise for control measures, from strict border quarantine to widespread use of masks, that enjoy broad public support.

(Reporting by Ann Wang; Writing by Clarence Fernandez; Editing by Alison Williams and Giles Elgood)