Tanks for all that

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 07 June, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 07 June, 2006, 12:00am

The trouble with city-centre skyscrapers is that tourists are drawn to them like men to football results. Meanwhile, nearby attractions diminish in significance as the battle to fit wife and towering building in camera viewfinder rages.

In Kuala Lumpur the story is no different. Visitors 'ooh' and 'ahh' at the Petronas Twin Towers and then wonder what else there is to do once the photographic mission is complete. Fortunately, there's an option. Five minutes' walk from the towers is Aquaria KLCC, a 60,000sqft aquarium on the concourse level at the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre.

What's unusual about this aquarium is its location, smack in the middle of the capital - perfect for when mall fatigue sets in.

Aquaria KLCC's theme is taking visitors on a journey. This begins with highland forest streams that grow into rivers, which then move through rainforests and progress to the coastal lowlands and mangrove swamps, culminating in a meeting with the sea - all this without getting wet.

Through this, visitors witness more than 5,000 aquatic and land-bound animals representing 150 species. But, like dessert at dinner, the best is saved until last.

The Living Oceans section is a 90-metre acrylic tunnel complete with moving walkway that glides visitors through a giant tank containing 3,000 sea creatures. A faux shipwreck has been colonised by inquisitive reef inhabitants and is gradually becoming part of the coral reef. On patrol are scary-looking sand tiger sharks, the KLCC being the first aquarium in Southeast Asia to exhibit the species. These beasts are glassy eyed and menacing, with razor-sharp teeth, and itching for prey.

And if you're all fished out, take in the Flooded Forest Tube Tank, which recreates a typical local rainforest of 130 million years ago, when ancient ferns grew - before man razed them in favour of skyscrapers and photo ops.

Aquaria KLCC, Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre, daily, 11am-8pm, adult RM38 ($81), child RM26. Go to www.klaquaria.com