ABOUT DOWNTOWN AQUARIUM’S WHITE TIGER EXHIBIT
The Houston Downtown Aquarium, a wholly owned subsidiary of Landry’s, Inc., is an entertainment and dining complex that is home to four stunning White Tigers – Nero, Marina, Coral and Reef. The tigers reside in state-of-the-art living quarters in the Maharaja’s Temple exhibit.
The exhibit at the Aquarium is accredited by the Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA), the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Zoological Association of America (ZAA), all of which hold the property to the highest of industry standards. Downtown Aquarium Houston is one of 230 accredited members of the AZA, having been most recently accredited in March of 2015. Fewer than 10 percent of all USDA public display permit holders are able to meet AZA’s rigorous accreditation standards, and Downtown Aquarium Houston has done so since 2004. Routine inspections by USDA are conducted annually and the property remains in total compliance.
The Downtown Aquarium’s White Tiger exhibit was designed and constructed with the recommendations of large carnivore experts from across the country. The temperature-regulated exhibit features soundproof glass, multiple levels for climbing, a large pool for encouraged water play, and multiple skylights and windows to provide natural sunlight.
Landry’s consistently improves the exhibits at Downtown Aquarium with a focus on the tigers’ quality of life. Examples include regularly changing out the exhibit substrates and rotating the enrichment activities. Additionally, each day brings new activities and toys to ensure the tigers are always engaged and entertained.
DOWNTOWN AQUARIUM’S WHITE TIGER EXHIBIT VS. A SANCTUARY
Certified by AZA, USDA and ZAA, the Downtown Aquarium White Tiger exhibit employs a full-time staff, with over 40 years of zoo and aquarium experience that monitor the cats 365 days a year. In addition to our staff, we also have three veterinarians that visit the facility and provide care to the tigers several times a month and remain on-call 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
The tigers are well-trained in animal husbandry behaviors that allows for medical procedures such as voluntary blood withdrawals and injections without the need to chemically restrain them. The animals are also provided daily vitamins and supplements.
While people are often drawn to the word sanctuary as it sounds like a peaceful place where animals can retire, many sanctuaries are underfunded and understaffed with volunteers who are not qualified to work with large carnivores. The regulations for exotic animals kept in these sanctuaries vary by state and are generally very lax. In Texas, there are no laws prohibiting the housing and care of exotic animals so long as the facility meets USDA requirements. While the USDA may inspect any facility that houses mammals, their rules only address basic needs; however, reputable zoos and aquariums, on a voluntary basis, also seek to be regulated by several other organizations, such as the AZA, ZAA and AHA to name a few. These organizations have highly rigorous and detailed animal health and maintenance standards that zoos and aquariums must follow in order to maintain accreditation. The Houston Downtown Aquarium is accredited by AZA and ZAA institutions. Many sanctuaries ARE NOT accredited facilities because they cannot meet the high-quality standards set by these organizations.