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Aquarium to bring the Outback to Baltimore

THE BALTIMORE SUN

The Australian Outback - popularized this spring as the setting for the "Survivor II" television series - will provide the inspiration for the next major exhibit at an expanded National Aquarium in Baltimore.

After considering everything from the sea cliffs of Alaska to the Okefenokee Swamp in Georgia and Florida, the aquarium has selected "Australian River Canyon" as the theme for the signature exhibit of a $40 million expansion planned for Pier 3, executive director David Pittenger announced yesterday during a meeting of the Downtown Partnership of Baltimore.

The exhibit will be an "immersive habitat" that re-creates a section of northern Australia's Kakadu National Park, complete with a 40-foot-high waterfall, crocodiles, turtles, parrots, snakes and fruit-eating bats. It also will tell the history of the Aboriginal people who live in the Outback.

"It was the place where 'Survivor' was filmed," Pittenger said. "Nobody in the U.S. has done this sort of exhibit. ... The intent is to accurately reproduce this environment so people come away thinking, 'Wow, I've been to Australia.'"

Planned for completion by 2005, the expansion will be the first major addition to the Inner Harbor attraction since the Marine Mammal Pavilion 11 years ago.

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