AUSTIN (KXAN) - If you want to visit exotic aquatic species in Austin, you'll likely end up at a store. But by next fall, we could have an aquarium all our own.
The Austin Aquarium will be run by two brothers from Boise, Idaho. They already own an aquarium in Boise and another in Portland, Ore .
"In my brother's front yard, he built a stingray and a shark pond that the neighbor kids came over and played in all the time," said Vince Covino with Austin Aquarium. "That gave us the idea that people really love interacting with these creatures."
Their current aquariums host reptiles, birds, fish, sharks and stingrays. Covino says to expect a hands-on experience in Austin with 2,500 different species.
"It's one thing to watch a movie about marine life or read a book about marine life but to have a hands-on experience to have a close encounter with these species is a whole new experience," said Covino. "It's inspirational, it's educational and we think families are going to love what we bring."
Austin Aquarium hasn't picked a location just yet. The owners say they're deciding between two spots in North Central Austin. Once they settle on one, the City of Austin says they'll have to go through the commercial permitting process which could take several months.
In that time, there are plans to start hiring. Austin Aquarium will employ around 100 people, many with biology or marine backgrounds.
"We need qualified employees," said Covino. "We'll have over 100 employees at this location. 35-40 of those will be marine biologists or master degree biologists or veterinarians and Austin has a very high percentage of college graduates so we're confident we'll be able to get some really good qualified team members."
Already, some are expressing concerns on the Austin Aquarium Facebook page . One asked about accreditation.
"There are certain accreditations that take several years to get," said Covino. "We'll probably be 2015-16 before we look at national accreditations such as AZA [Association of Zoos and Aquariums]."
Covino says they hope to see 50,000 guests a month.
An aquarium in the capitol city is an idea Gary Coffman at Austin Aqua Dome can get behind.
"Anytime you can expose the general community to living things for awareness and the environment and things like that, I think it's great," said Gary Coffman, Austin Aqua Dome.
Coffman's hope is for a friendly, clean facility.
"Just a nice friendly, well kept environment, I think that's what people look for," said Coffman. "I think that in itself lends to the enjoyment of the facility."
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