Loveland Living Planet Aquarium
|Date opened||February 1999|
|Location||Draper, Utah, United States|
|Floor space||136,000 sq ft (12,600 m2)|
|No. of animals||2,484|
|No. of species||450+|
|Volume of largest tank||300,000 US gallons (1,100,000 L)|
|Total volume of tanks||600,000 US gallons (2,271,000 L) |
|Annual visitors||1 million +|
The Loveland Living Planet Aquarium' is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization located in Draper, Utah, United States, is home to 2500 animals representing 450 species. The public aquarium consists of five main exhibits: Discover Utah, Ocean Explorer, Journey to South America, Expedition Asia and Antarctic Adventure.
The Loveland Living Planet Aquarium in Utah grew out of an initiative in 1998 by founder and CEO, Brent Andersen, a Utah native and marine biology graduate from the University of California Santa Barbara. The initial plan was to build a 100,000 sq ft aquarium that showed ecosystems from around the world, and help make the connection with visitors that these ecosystems are actually one global ecosystem, the Living Planet. Locations for the aquarium were considered in Salt Lake County and Utah County, and feasibility studies indicated downtown Salt Lake City would be the best location. As the fundraising campaign for the aquarium began, the education component of the Aquarium was launched in February 1999 when the Aquavan was outfitted with educational portable marine exhibits and began visiting Utah schools.
In December 1999, a second outreach program as added, (the Rain Forest Van) and in May 2002 a third program, the Utah Waters Van was launched. Each program focused on concepts that are part of the State Office of Education's core curriculum, and collectively began reaching students at every elementary school in the state. While the education programs were growing rapidly, funding for the then $40 million aquarium was much not advancing. A different strategy was created to first build a small "preview exhibit" as a way to stimulate interest.
In June 2004, the Living Planet Aquarium Preview Exhibit opened in The Gateway mall, a 10,000 sq. ft. exhibit with freshwater fish, sharks, stingrays, eels, a coral reef, giant octopus a small theater and other interactive exhibits. The public response was overwhelming, attendance was at capacity with over 150,000 visitors per year the first two years and the small space was quickly outgrown. The Aquarium capitalized on that success to relocate in June 2006 to a much larger 43,000 sq ft space in Sandy, Utah. Attendance continued to climb each year to reach 460,000 visitors per year and leadership kept reinvesting in growth of the facility. By this point the concept and business model had been proven and the public demand firmly established.
Several prominent members of the business community joined to lead the board including Ken Murdock, Jim Loveland, Tim Cosgrove, Jeff Flamm, and Paul Hutchinson. The Loveland Family Foundation had been a long time donor, and in 2011 presented the lead gift to the Aquarium CEO Brent Andersen, which catalyzed the capital campaign. This lead gift ultimately allowing the organization to raise $29 million and build a permanent home in Draper, Utah. The 136,0000 sq. ft. Loveland Living Planet Aquarium opened to the public on March 24th, 2014 and saw over 1.1 million visitors the first year of operation.
Ocean Explorer features saltwater species from all over the world including sea jellies, eels, seahorses and seven species of sharks. Shark species include brown-banded bamboo sharks, nurse sharks, sandbar sharks, blacktip reef sharks, whitetip reef sharks, grey reef sharks, and zebra sharks. One of the most popular features is the 40-foot shark tunnel. Guests can view the sharks, sea turtles and sting rays swimming just inches away! The shark tunnel weighs 26,000 pounds and was lifted through the roof of the aquarium with a crane. The tunnel is made from 3.5 inch thick acrylic.
Journey to South America
Journey to South America takes you through the rain forests of South America, where you will encounter a 14-foot anaconda, piranha, caiman, desert insects, tree boas, electric eels, tree frogs and Amazon giants. The exhibit also educates guests about the biodiversity of rain forest ecosystems, the benefits rain forests provide us and how we all can help protect these amazing habitats!
Discover Uta hhouses some of Utah’s threatened and endangered species such as June suckers and least chub. The largest exhibit in this gallery features three male North American river otters which will serve to educate visitors about river otters, otter reintroduction efforts, and release locations in Utah. Families can learn all about the importance of preserving and protecting Utah’s waterways as they explore and experience this exhibit.
Expedition: Asia opened on June 15, 2016. The traveling exhibit features three male Asian small-clawed otters, three Asian arowana, and many different species of Asian birds, fish, and reptiles. The main feature of Expedition: Asia are the aquarium's two clouded leopards, Koshi and Rue.
The aquarium's education department currently operates two outreach programs: the Utah Waters Van and the Rain forest Van. The outreach programs visit over 450 elementary schools statewide each year, reaching nearly 80,000 students. Field trip programs for pre-kindergarten through twelfth grade and a teacher professional development program with resources for fourth grade teachers are offered.
- "Living Planet Aquarium Exhibits".
- Ostergar, Martha (27 March 2015). "Photos: Loveland Living Aquarium". KSL.
- Wadley, Carma (31 May 2009). "Living Planet Aquarium offers a fun-filled educational experience for kids of all ages". Deseret News. Archived from the original on 20 July 2012.
- Knudson, Max B. (19 Feb 1998). "Set Sights On Huge Living Planet Aquarium For Utah". Deseret News. Retrieved 20 July 2012.
- Hayes, Elyse (30 May 2002). "New 'water' vans deliver education to students". Deseret News. Archived from the original on 20 July 2012.
- Campbell, Joel (14 December 1999). "Van Puts Rain Forest In The Classroom". Deseret News. Retrieved 20 July 2012.