SALINA- The Salina Central Mall and the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks, and Tourism (KDWPT) will host a grand re-opening ceremony of the Bruce Zamrzla Memorial Aquarium on May 12, beginning at 1 p.m. and ending at 3 p.m. The Central Mall is located at 2259 S. 9th St. in Salina.
The 15,000-gallon aquarium is 25 feet long and is home to many amazing species of Kansas fish and turtles. The display was originally constructed in 1987 at the urging of Bruce Zamrzla, who was the district fisheries biologist for the area. “Zam,” as he was affectionately known, was tragically killed in a car accident on April 19, 1994, but he left an amazing legacy as a resource manager and champion of outdoor education. Fittingly, the aquarium was renamed and dedicated in his honor.
The aquarium has long served as an excellent outdoor education exhibit but in recent years had begun to show its age. As part of the Central Mall’s 25th Anniversary, KDWPT and Central Mall teamed up to restore the aquarium to a first-class attraction. The aquarium features new designs and graphics, an educational PowerPoint display, Kansas fisheries videos, and an updated rustic look and feel. The neon fish formerly on the overhead display have been removed and replaced with a structure designed by Melissa Bowell, a commercial art student at Salina Area Technical College. Bowell’s design was judged the best in a contest with 24 other entries, and she will receive a $1,000 scholarship award for efforts. An amended version of the design has been created and donated by Kasa Fab and will be unveiled at the re-opening event.
The aquarium also received attention. The fish were transferred to the Milford Hatchery for safe keeping while the aquarium was drained, cleaned, and new filtration and water quality devices were added. The fish are in great shape, and the water is now even more crystal clear than Wilson Lake.
The ceremony on Saturday will include presentations by Central Mall staff and KDWPT Assistant Secretary Keith Sexson. A ribbon cutting will be conducted by the Central Mall, Salina Chamber of Commerce, and KDWPT Fisheries Chief Doug Nygren.
Following, the ceremony, Fishing’s Future and the KDWPT Fish KS Aquatic Education Program will host a Kids’ Casting Event. All participants will receive prizes, and a drawing will be held for Central Mall gift cards and a framed fish print.