Draper’s newly built Loveland Living Planet Aquarium is bound to make a splash as it opens its doors to the public March 25.
At 139,000 square feet, holding 500,000 gallons of water, the new aquarium is more than three times larger than its previous location in Sandy, which closed after renovations on the new site began.
“The biggest hit will definitely be our shark tank and walk-through shark tunnel,” said Taylor English, an employee at the aquarium. “But there are a lot of other really cool attractions and exhibits too.”
In addition to sharks, people can visit a myriad of marine species including octopi, stingrays, seahorses and electric eels.
Unlike most aquariums, Draper’s Loveland will also host animals that don’t live underwater.
“There are four different hallways, and only one of them is oceanic and involving sea life. The rest will have other animals from around the world, including birds, snakes, and frogs,” English said.
The second floor of the building will include the aquarium’s Penguin Encounter, which is said to feature up to 50 birds and several species of penguins. Also located on the second floor will be Utah’s only 4D theater experience, which will present 4D interactive nature films and provide space for educational presentations and lectures.
For many Utahans, the grand opening of this impressive building has felt like a long time coming.
“I heard they have been making this for awhile but it kind of seemed like it was never going to actually happen,” said Hannah Woods, a pre-communications student from Sandy.
But according to Dr. Russel Rader, a marine biology professor at BYU, the process of building and filling an aquarium is not a simple task.
“You have to know what specific environment requirements each species needs in order to thrive and then you have to recreate that,” Rader said. “You also need to take into consideration things like temperature, oxygen, and pH levels. If you don’t do that, and make sure that certain types of species are compatible with each other, the animals won’t survive.”
Construction is nearly complete on the new aquarium, located in Draper at 12033 S. Lone Peak Parkway.