The latest initiative at Atlantis, Paradise Island in the Bahamas involves neither guest rooms nor water slides but aquariums and marine mammals.

The megaresort has received accreditation by the Association of Zoos & Aquariums' independent accreditation commission.

"Only the very best zoos and aquariums can meet the tough accreditation standards of AZA," said Jim Maddy, AZA president and CEO.  "The leadership and staff of Atlantis are to be congratulated for the hard work and commitment that they put into the accreditation process."

Atlantis cares for more than 50,000 marine animals and offers educational programs for its guests about the marine animals on site.

Currently, the resort is completing the curriculum for a science program for children in grades seven through nine that will help prepare them for a career in marine science.

Atlantis is home to the world's largest open-air marine habitat and the 11-acre Dolphin Cay, a dolphin interaction and education center.

Frank Murru, chief marine officer for Kerzner International, which owns and operates Atlantis, said that the habitat and dolphin facility were created "to enlighten visitors about the wonders of the remarkable ocean inhabitants."

Dolphin Cay also is the current residence of 16 rescued "Katrina dolphins." Some of them were swept to sea during Hurricane Katrina in 2005 from their previous habitat at the Marine Life Oceanarium in Gulfport, Miss.

The first offspring from the rescued Katrina dolphins were born at Dolphin Cay earlier this month.

Kelly, a 32-year-old Atlantic bottlenose dolphin, gave birth on April 4; 21-year-old Michelle gave birth to a calf on April 6.

All of Dolphin Cay's Atlantic bottlenose dolphins live in 11 interconnected pools filled with nearly 7 million gallons of seawater. They are cared for by a team of 55 specialists.

To contact reporter Gay Nagle Myers, send e-mail to [email protected].

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