Dec. opening of mammal pavilion seen


The National Aquarium in Baltimore has begun planning for a late-December opening of the new $35 million Marine Mammal Pavilion.

Aquarium spokeswoman Vicki Aversa said the grand opening will likely be on a date between Christmas and New Year's Day, perhaps Dec. 26.

Although final construction is continuing on the new Pier 4 facility, Aversa said the aquarium's two beluga whales -- Kia and Anore -- have already been moved from the Pier 3 building into the pavilion's million-gallon exhibition tank.

They have been joined there by the aquarium's third beluga, Sikku, which was brought to Baltimore from the New York Aquarium.

The belugas are sharing the new tank with three bottlenose dolphins -- Akai, Nalu and Nani -- purchased from a Galveston, Texas marine park and brought to Baltimore Aug. 30. A fourth dolphin captured last November is awaiting transport from a holding facility in Florida.

An invitation-only fund-raising gala -- the aquarium's first -- is scheduled to be held in the new pavilion on Nov. 17.

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