Crowds throng Underwater World Singapore on its last day of operations

Locals and tourists alike turned up in droves on the last day of Underwater World's last day of operations in Sentosa on June 26, 2016. ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG
Locals and tourists alike turned up in droves during Underwater World's last day of operations in Sentosa on June 26, 2016. ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG
Visitors watch resident peacocks and peahens outside Underwater World on June 26, 2016. ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

SINGAPORE - As the strains of Auld Lang Syne played over the speakers at Underwater World Singapore, people turned up in droves to take their last selfies and videos with the marine life at the oceanarium before it closed for good on Sunday (June 26).

Around 8,500 locals and tourists thronged the 25-year-old attraction in Sentosa - more than five times the average daily visitorship, said Haw Par Corporation, which runs Underwater World.

Some came to bid adieu to a place that held fond memories from their younger days, while others took advantage of the slashed admission prices to visit the facility for the first - and final - time.

"It's been almost 16 years since I last came here. I used to visit at least once a year," said Madam Christina Lim, 53, a bus captain who was riding the travellator that snaked through Underwater World's iconic 83-metre underwater tunnel.

Pointing at the giant groupers and sharks swimming overhead, she said: "I would watch the fishes grow bigger and bigger. When I heard it's closing, I thought, I must visit it one last time."

At the touch pools, children and adults alike squeezed their way to the edges for a chance to stroke the fishes, starfishes and stingrays within.

Earlier in June, Haw Par announced that it will be closing the attraction as the lease on its premises expires in less than two years. The early closure is to facilitate the transfer of the animals to their new homes.

The attraction's pink dolphins, fur seals and otters have been moved to Chimelong Ocean Kingdom in Zhuhai, China, one of the largest marine parks in the world.

As for the rest of the animals, a Haw Par spokesman said: "After the closure, 10 of our staff will stay on to operate and maintain the aquarium's life support system and to care for the animals till suitable homes are found for them."

In its last month, the oceanarium lowered ticket prices to its 1991 opening prices - $9 per adult and $5 per child - against the usual prices of $29.90 for adults and $20.90 for children.

This prompted Mr Gary Lim, 50, to make a trip down for the first time on Sunday, with his wife and two children.

"It was very expensive previously," said Mr Lim, a cost controller.

While he found the underwater tunnel interesting, he lamented: "It was very crowded so I didn't have the chance to just stand there and watch the fishes."

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