The Living Planet Aquarium, Utah, has scheduled a ground-breaking ceremony for the 136,000-square-foot, $20 million expansion on October 24.
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The new facility, renamed the Loveland Living Planet Aquarium, is set to open to the public in winter 2013. Visitor numbers are forecast at 530,000 per year for this family oriented destination.
The Aquarium will present ecosystems from nearby Utah deserts and mountains, to the world’s rainforests and oceans, showing how they work together as the “Living Planet”. Highlights will include:
- The first floor of the new Aquarium will feature marine, freshwater, and rain forest exhibit galleries, a 400 seat banquet hall, café and gift shop.
- The Discover Utah Gallery - Freshwater aquatic species, amphibians and mammals indigenous to Utah.
- The North American River Otter Exhibit - The premiere attraction showcasing these lively animals in both an indoor and outdoor environment.
- The Ocean Explorer Gallery – Includes a myriad of marine species such as octopus, stingrays, seahorses and other deep sea creatures. The highlight feature of this gallery will be the 300,000 gallon shark tank with a 40-foot walk-through tunnel.
- The Journey To South America Gallery - A vibrant exhibition of rainforest species and will include Amazon river giants, free-flight tropical birds, Caiman, giant Anaconda, Electric Eels, poison arrow frogs and dozens of other exotic Amazon species.
- The Penguin Encounter - The centerpiece of the Bottom of the World exhibits which include the Deep Sea Gallery and the interactive undersea submersible.
- A scale model replica of an ocean-going National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) research vessel will serve as the gateway for our visitors’ educational adventure and reinforce TLPA’s mission which is to inspire people to explore, discover and learn about Earth’s diverse ecosystems.
- The Second Floor - Access to the upper levels of the South America Gallery, Penguin Encounter and the Research Vessel, as well as a changing exhibits gallery, café, interactive play area, and the only 4D theater experience in Utah. The Aquarium will present 4D films, interactive nature films as well as provide space for lectures and educational presentations.
- The Changing Exhibits Gallery - new and unique exhibits every 12-18 months, providing a fresh experience for guests.
- The Education Center - classrooms equipped with scientific equipment supporting onsite education programs reaching K-12 and university students and the base for outreach education.
- Interactive Play Area - a multi-purpose space for birthday parties, educational experiences, conferences and other group activities.
The current 43,000-square-foot aquarium in Sandy (725 E. 10600 South) is expected to welcome 450,000 visitors this year, providing science education to an additional 50,000 elementary school students statewide.
Brent Andersen, Founder and CEO, said, “With the tremendous efforts of a remarkable team of staff, volunteers, donors and board of trustees the aquarium has grown over 50% through the recession, confirming the demand for a larger aquarium in Utah,”
The Sandy location will close September 8, 2013 to allow for transition into the new building in Draper at 12033 S. Lone Peak Parkway.
Rep. Tim Cosgrove, Aquarium Board of Trustees, said, “A larger aquarium will become a major destination spot which will enhance local and statewide economies by generating economic activity and supporting jobs. It is estimated that the project will support over 300 construction jobs and generate $800,000 in tax revenues for the State each year.”