Coral World park installs wheelchair access

CHARLOTTE AMALIE, U.S. Virgin Islands -- Coral World Marine Park & Undersea Observatory on St. Thomas completed its installation of wheelchair lift access as part of its program to make the park accessible to all visitors.

The lift transports both guest and wheelchair above the steps to the center of the 80,000-gallon doughnut-shaped tank, the centerpiece of the Caribbean Reef Encounter exhibit.

Trudie J. Prior, Coral World's president and general manager, said that "part of the reconstruction following Hurricane Marilyn in 1995 included a redesign of the park to provide accessibility to as many exhibits as possible.

"We created wheelchair-accessible walkways to the major exhibits. With the completion of the new lift, we have removed all obstacles to full viewing of the Caribbean Reef Encounter by guests with mobility impairments," Prior said.

Walkways and ramps allow access to the Palm Court, Shark Shallows and Touch Pool exhibits.

Pathways permit views of the Sting Ray and Turtle Pools, and a ramp around the Mangrove Lagoon makes the Marine Gardens and its 21 aquariums available.

Prior said the next project in Coral World's accessibility program is to install television monitors so that visitors can watch the feedings in the Predator Tank as well as the marine life that is visible 15 feet below the sea.

Interpretative signage for those who are deaf or hard of hearing also has been installed throughout Coral World Marine Park.

For information, contact Coral World Marine Park & Undersea Observatory at (340) 775-1555.

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