BACKGROUND: The National Aquarium in Baltimore features hundreds of exhibits and has more than 16,500 animals. It measures 115,000 square feet and holds more than one million gallons of water. Among the top exhibits today are an environment of Australian animals, a dolphin exhibit, and an exhibit about frogs, the most populous amphibian.
AUSTRALIAN ANIMALS: The Aquarium's Australian exhibit, Animal Planet Australia: Wild Extremes, depicts stories of animal survival in Australia's dry environment. The highly adaptive animals in wild Australia have survived over millions of years in a land of drought, fire, and flood. Australia, roughly the same size as the United States, is the worldıs largest island. Separated by ocean from the rest of the world, Australia has a higher percentage of native animals than any other continent on earth, meaning that many of its species are not naturally found outside the country. These animals -- living creatures that are as close to prehistoric as can be found on earth -- developed over millions of years in solitude.
MARSUPIAL MAMMALS: Australia is famous for its marsupial mammals, which carry their developing young around in a pouch. The mother delivers the babies, still in the embryo stage, when they cannot live by themselves, from inside her body into this pouch. The embryo crawls up and attaches itself to the mothers nipples, located inside the pouch. It continues to develop there, and eventually starts leaving and returning to the pouch in later stages of its development. Over 200 of the 334 species of marsupials are native to Australia, but just one species native to the US, the Virginia Opossum.