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It’s been a busy few years at the world-class Audubon Institute’s Aquarium of the Americas. Penguin evacuees made a star-studded post-Katrina return via a chartered FedEx flight, waddling home down a (FedEx) purple carpet as news cameras rolled. Then, rescued sea turtles were rehabilitated here after the Gulf oil spill; some made the Aquarium their permanent home. These instances point up just how topical and relevant an aquarium can be, besides being full of cool fishies. This one, which has a strong focus on the Mississippi and the Gulf of Mexico, is highly entertaining and painlessly educational for kids and grown-ups. There’s plenty of interactivity including a new “Geaux Fish!” exhibit that follows fish from the waters to the plate. We love the huge interior rain forest complete with birds and piranhas, and being able to peer below the surface of a swamp. Not to be missed are a fine exhibit on frogs, a rare albino gator, and a manta-ray touch tank. The outdoor splash fountain, which debuted in 2015, is irresistible on a warm day. Right on the edge of the Quarter, it's a handy refuge from the heat or rain and part of a complex of Audubon attractions, including the Imax-style giant Entergy Theatre next door; the Insectarium a block away; and the Audubon Zoo uptown. If you plan to visit more than one, get a combination admission package; add the $10 round-trip double-decker bus ticket if you're going to the Aquarium and Zoo on the same day. It runs hourly and is quicker than the streetcar, cheaper than a taxi (about $25 each way).