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It's an aquarium in a mall...that feels like a mall aquarium...

The Blue Zoo is an aquarium/petting zoo (kind of) that is located inside the mall. We visited just... read more

Reviewed August 15, 2019
AaronandRosie
,
Puyallup, Washington
via mobile
Really disappointed in this attraction

We had promised our grandkids a trip to Blue Zoo when it opened....we waited awhile to let the... read more

Reviewed 1 week ago
Pam W
,
Coeur d'Alene, Idaho
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Reviewed August 24, 2019

I am visiting family with my daughter, and while waiting for dinner reservations yesterday (a Friday), we were all looking for something to do. I understand that there is not much for families with small children to do in Spokane, and at first this seems like a reasonable idea. And, if you’ve never been to an established zoological aquarium you might be impressed.

You know you’re in for a “for-profit” experience when the entrance and exit is a gift shop, and there’s a 10min video that has the owner talking more about himself than the rules of the aquarium (and there are only 3, and they are woefully inadequate).
The aquarium tanks were OK but more like large scale mediocre hobbyist aquariums in terms of set up and animal enrichment. Jellyfish are notoriously hard to care for, as evidenced by some dead floaters in the jelly tank. The website boasts of an octopus tank but there was no octopus. The shark tank is devoid of any environment, it’s just small sharks in a plain diving tank.

Here’s the big reason this gets one star from me on Google: the “interactive” starfish tank, ray tank/pool, bird area.

The starfish tank: you should NEVER take a starfish out of the water as this can make them sick and they can even die from too much air exposure. That this is even an option is appalling. Gentle touches under the water is ok. Removing them is not, and visitors are encouraged to take them out of the water. The only staff person I saw supervising was the same staff member who was earlier guarding the door before the video at the entrance.

Ray tank: on the surface this is a great idea, but only if you have the proper protocols and protections for the rays. There was ONE blue-shirt staff person who looked to be 18 years old, who seemed to be completely intimidated by 30 adults and children surrounding the tank. I was infuriated by several children (and some adults) jabbing their whole hands at the rays repeatedly. Two preteen boys were putting their hands under the rays to lift them out of the water and trying to grab their tails. I alerted the staff person and he said “I’ll keep an eye on them,” and proceeded to say nothing as the boys continued to do this. Eventually a black-shirt staff person rebuked the boy (the other one wandered off) and walked away. When you visit aquariums established with marine zoology-trained staff, they watch visitors like a hawk and remove visitors who do not follow the rules on touching the rays: ONLY two-finger touches and absolutely no grabbing, jabbing, or putting hands underneath the animals. These rules don’t exist at BlueZoo, only to be “gentle with the animals.”

Bird area: honestly If I wasn’t too infuriated by the ray tank to even look at the birds. My family member said that it was “depressing and inadequate.”

While the staff is friendly, there doesn’t seem to be enough staff for the volume of visitors. The blue shirt staff do not appear adequately trained in either animal care or rebuking visitors who do not follow the rules, and the black-shirt staff (I’m assuming supervisors) seem pretty absent from the floor.

Lastly, $16 per adult and $13 for a child seems pretty steep for one big room with inadequate aquarium tanks, woeful interactive areas, and a giant play area (considering the Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium is just $3 more for adults for a full-day experience and animal conservation programs). My family was extremely disappointed and requested a refund, and after a 3-person staff huddle we were given cash ... we paid via card.

If this “aquarium” didn’t have the interactive animal areas, and were a little cheaper, it would be better. My daughter did enjoy the water tables and pirate ship. But an indoor playground is just outside at the main entrance to the mall, and we spent more time there afterward.

Date of experience: August 2019
Thank TheYiv
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Daydream22246624099, Manager at Blue Zoo, responded to this reviewResponded September 2, 2019


Yvonne, thank you for sharing your feedback, we appreciate hearing from you. We're glad that your daughter had fun and would like to share that we've passed all animal care inspections and have a full, certified animal husbandry team that cares for the health and safety of our animals. Our Aquarium Director encourages you to reach out to him directly to hear more details about your concerns. Please email him directly at spokanedirector@bluezoo.us.

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Reviewed August 22, 2019 via mobile

Younger kids will have fun playing with water themed play things and older will enjoy petting some fish. Even older will enjoy watching some fish. Birds and reptile display are available too.

One thing people should watch for is the wet floor. Just seeing bunch of kids running around and grandparents bringing said kids on wet floor sounds like a law suits waiting to happen. Hopefully they will just put rubber floor everywhere.

Date of experience: August 2019
Thank tmokes
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Daydream22246624099, Manager at Blue Zoo, responded to this reviewResponded September 2, 2019

Tmokes, thank you for the feedback! We appreciate you taking the time to share! We are all about inspiring and educating children and families! We have employed measure for safety with the floors, thank you for sharing that concern.

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Reviewed August 15, 2019 via mobile

The Blue Zoo is an aquarium/petting zoo (kind of) that is located inside the mall. We visited just a couple of days after it opened, so they are undoubtedly still working out the kinks.

When you enter, they have folks line up to go into a video room. They form a group, shut the door, and everyone watches a ~2 minute video explaining why the owner created the "zoo."

When the video ends, you can exit the opposite doors and enter the aquarium (as a new group enters the video room). The idea of breaking the flow up makes sense in theory, but makes it difficult when trying to enjoy the animals as "waves" (pun not intended) of folks enter at a time totally crowding the space and creating a pressure to move along.

There are quite a few baby fish and other sea creatures, but the aquarium space isn't very large.

From the aquarium area, you enter a room with two small and one large tide pool. Thankfully they seem to do a pretty good job making sure folks wash their hands so the animals don't get sick. The pools are pretty neat, and the gals "manning" the small pools were knowledgeable and friendly. The big tide pool has rays in it you can pet as well, but most littles can't reach them because the pool is deep (which I think is good for limiting what the rays have to deal with every day I'm sure).

There was a worker running a water vacuum around constantly which made sense as folks walked around with dripping hands, but they also about ran into us a few times. There were far too many people allowed in the space at once time -- and with that, the vacuum running around was a big pain.

Further in is a water table great for the younger set, as well as a cage filled with birds you can walk into and feed. They have a small reptile area, a pirate ship jungle jim, and a big shark tank with tiny little sharks (black tip reef sharks, I believe). There is also a river tank you can view fresh water fish in, and a pool of "manicure fish" you can dip your hands in.

This place is an interesting mix of a few different things - what with the birds and reptiles mixed in. But the price to get in was more than our local zoo that offers a full day of animal sighting fun as well as a large remodeled aquarium, so this seemed a bit...odd.

We spent roughly an hour there, but many with older children would make it through even quicker...which makes the price tag a bit questionable. We don't regret going, by any means, but wouldn't spend that again on tickets. It's one of those "we've seen it once and now we are done" places.

Overall, if asked what it was like, I would simply say it's an aquarium in a mall..and it definitely feels like a shopping mall aquarium. Fun for a bit, but very different.

Date of experience: August 2019
Thank AaronandRosie
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Daydream22246624099, Manager at Blue Zoo, responded to this reviewResponded September 2, 2019

Aaron and Rosie, thank you for sharing your feedback. Your honest opinion is greatly valued. The majority of our most enthusiastic patrons are those with children who see the aww and wonder of seeing over 200 species of animals, touching and feeding stingray, birds and lizards as well as our two water/science tables, pirate ship, pirate show and mermaid meet and greet. Thank you again.

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Reviewed August 15, 2019

I took my kids to see the new Blue Zoo and we had an amazing time we were here for hours! The Zoo is located in the mall so there is lots of parking and we were able to find a parking place that was free. The cost to get in is almost the same for kids and adults but I would say it is worth it. We watched a video first on things to do and not do, then we went in. They have aquariums full of fish, they had an area full of parakeets that fly around you, an areas of reptiles as well, a big pirate ship that kids can play on, an amazing science water table that kids love, but the best part is you get to touch a STINGRAY! Yes, they have a big area where there are about 20 stingray swimming in the water and you get to touch them which is pretty awesome and I will never forget. Kids and adult have a great time here with the stingrays, they also have an area where you can pick up starfish. This place is awesome and a must visit. The only thing I was a little disappointed not to see a giant octopus in his tank and the seahorse tank was empty, but hey it just opened. This is a great place for all ages!

Date of experience: August 2019
1  Thank Jd J
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Daydream22246624099, Manager at Blue Zoo, responded to this reviewResponded September 2, 2019

Jd J, we're glad that you had a great time and thank you for your feedback!

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