Sunday, January 17, 2010

Piranhas – Ferocious River Monsters, etc. at the KLCC Aquaria (Part 1)

KLCC Aquaria had become a goal. I have always wanted to check it out to compare it with similar places of its kind, especially with our Manila Ocean Park. So before flying back to Manila, I took the direct Pasar Seni train (the one near Central Market and Jalan Petaling) to KLCC. From there, it was a long walk amidst the alleys within the KLCC. It took me to the basement, then through the parking area. Finally, I saw the nondescript entrance of the KLCC Aquaria.

The Aquaria is an underwater park located beneath the Kuala Lumpur Convention Center (KLCC). It houses over 250 different species of aquatic and land animals, spread across 60,000 square feet of dimly lit, albeit strategically planned galleries. Highlighting this visit are its two top attractions: 1) the 90-meter long underwater tunnel, which compared to its counterpart in Bangkok (Siam Ocean World) and Manila, has to be the longest in Asia; 2) the Piranha Feeding Show!
In this first parter, we feature the dreaded and vicious Piranhas! Piranhas belong to a group of freshwater fish that originate from the South American rivers, notoriously feared for their sharp teeth and voracious appetite for meat! Though aquarium-variety piranhas have been introduced in the U.S., most are found in the Brazilian basins, Venezuela, Guyana, and even in Asia - the Kaptai Lake in south-east Bangladesh!

Ferocious Reputation and Myths

As published at a New York Times article, Piranha has a reputation as a fearless fish who hunt their prey in ferocious packs. However, recent research, which "started off with the premise that they school as a means of cooperative hunting", discovered that they were in fact rather fearful fish, like other fish, who schooled for protection from their predators, such as cormorants, caimans and dolphins. Piranhas are "basically like regular fish with large teeth".

There are various myths about piranhas such as how they can dilacerate a human body or cattle in seconds. These myths refer specifically to Pygocentrus nattereri, the red piranha – the species showcased at the Aquaria. Another myth is that they can be attracted by blood and are exclusive carnivores. When hungry, they feed on their own kind; in fact, piranhas that get caught by fishing rods are attacked by their own! That’s how ridiculously nasty they are!

On point of comparison, the collection of animals spotlighted at the Aquaria doesn’t overshadow those eye-popping, more eccentric species found at the newer Manila Ocean Park, but in terms of area and presentation (Manila’s displays are a tad too tight and cramped together), MOP can learn a lesson or two on space allocation and presentation. The underground tunnel at the KLCC Aquaria is also longer by 60%; and Singapore’s Ocean Adventure’s underground tunnel is almost 4x longer!

In this 1st part, we are featuring the piranhas and some of the other creepy crawlies.

Ready to gnaw! This photo only courtesy of wikipedia's alexdi.

Lethal dentition of a piranha. This photo only courtesy of wikipedia's sarefo.

Ordinary? Not so. This frog is as big as a watermelon!

Admission Price: 38 ringgit ($11.40 or PhP521) for adults – 13 years and older; 26 ringgit ($7.80/PhP367) for children and 18 ringgit for seniors. This rate is cheap compared to Bangkok’s 850 baht ($25 or PhP1,185); Manila Ocean Park’s entrance costs PhP400 ($8.70 or 287 baht) – the cheapest among the tree! Free entrance for children below 3 years old!

Opening Hours: 11AM-8PM daily; last ticket sold at 7PM. Kindly call (603) 2333-1888 in advance for convenience.

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For comparison, check out the following:

Check out Parts 2 to 4 of this series:

Part 2 - Tarantula, Butterflies, Eels and Horseshoe Crabs -

This is the Eye in the Sky!

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