IDAHO FALLS, Idaho (KIFI) - It's almost impossible to find a major city that doesn't have it's own aquarium. Slightly hidden behind Fred Meyer you'll find a sure sign that eastern Idaho is growing with the East Idaho Aquarium.
"It's been a little tricky getting started… It definitely took the support of local businesses and the community." said Clark Christensen, Director of Animal Health.
Since 2017, the aquarium has grown with a various selection of aquatic and non-aquatic ecosystems through the generosity of local businesses and volunteers.
"That's why when people go through, they see signs in the exhibit of different businesses' logos," Christensen said. "They donated a lot of money for us to be able to build the exhibits."
Even actor and comedian Tracy Morgan has invested in the aquarium, donating his two platinum alligator gars because they were getting too big for his personal tank. The expert working with Morgan's fish just so happened to be a former intern with the East Idaho Aquarium.
"We were pretty surprised because they're really expensive fish," said Christensen. "Our buddy called us up and said 'hey, he's looking to move these fish and wants to donate them somewhere. Do you guy's want them?' We said absolutely we want those fish."
Surprisingly the Christensen said the celebrity fish aren't what make the aquarium so popular.
"Our big thing is we're all about interaction," he said. "There's fish people can touch and feed, we've got parakeets that people can hold and feed, rays that people can touch. We've got doctor fish that nibble the dead skin off of your fingers. We even have a porcupine!"
Because the aquarium is a "high touch" attraction, the facility has taken precautions to fight against COVID-19 infections.
"We use multiple sand filters. They're typically used to filter swimming pools," he said. "We have protein skimmers and then we run UV sterilizers on all the tanks to where people can put their hands in and that kills all the bacteria that people might have on their hands."
To take that a step further, no one can enter the observation area without using the hand washing station at the front entrance.
To find out more about the East Idaho Aquarium, click here.