VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. - It's a project that's been in the works for nearly a decade andunder construction for the last three years, but Tuesday it becamea reality as the Virginia Aquarium and Marine Science Center inVirginia Beach opened the curtain on its newest exhibit, "TheRestless Planet."
It features four habitats from around the world - a Malaysianpeat swamp, the Sahara Desert, the Red Sea and the Flores Islands -habitats that, millions of years ago, could be found inVirginia.
In the exotic Malaysian habitat, the Exhibit Curator pointedvisitors to a rare sight.
"Directly behind me, in front of you, are a pair of one of themost critically endangered crocodiles in the world. This particularspecies is called the Tinisima Crocodile."
While the Tinisima Crocodile is not an indigenous species to theOld Dominion, researchers at the museum say you can make aconnection because Virginia's geological past was similar to theircurrent habiat.
Other interesting animals in the exhibit include a KomodoDragon.
"You hold a rat in front of them and they'll pretty much followyou anywhere," said one curator.
Visitors can also follow Sea Rays to the Red Sea habitat, and gounder the sea.
"It is immersed,"said Art Webb, a Marketing Representative forthe museum. "I mean you're like right down there in it as opposedto just in an architectural space."
The Aquarium has already entertained more than 600,000 gueststhis year. Hundreds of thousands more are expected to visit the newexhibit.
"We are hoping for more guests this year than ColonialWilliamsburg," said Aquarium Director Lynn Clements, "and ourlong-term goal is to have a million guests."
Tuesday's tour was limited to the media and invited guests butthe general public is welcome to come see it all beginningSaturday.
The "Restless Planet" exhibit covers 12,000 square feet and cost$25 million to build.
A 12-year-old student was arrested and charged with making a threat against a Hampton middle school.
The suspect entered Oriental Decor in the Lynnhaven Crossing Shopping Center around 1:50 p.m. on Dec. 6 and stole a sword valued at $300.
The FBI is asking for the public's help to identify the suspects responsible for a string of bank robberies in Chesapeake and Virginia Beach.