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|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 located in Draper, Utah, United States. It currently houses 4,500 animals representing 550 species. The public aquarium currently consists of five main exhibits.
The Loveland Living Planet Aquarium was founded in 1997 by Brent Andersen, a Utah native and marine biology graduate from the University of California Santa Barbara. The mission of the Loveland Living Planet Aquarium (LLPA) is to inspire people to explore, discover, and learn about Earth's diverse ecosystems. It is a regional attraction with over 850,000 annual visitors and is enjoyed by the citizens of Utah, and visitors from around the globe. The Aquarium provides a connection for people to learn about Earth's diverse environments by allowing visitors an up close and personal look into unique and interesting aquatic and animal life. Each year, its education programs provide over 170,000 student experiences through visits to the Aquarium and outreach programs in schools throughout the state of Utah. LLPA's experienced staff of 151 are dedicated to inspiring students, researchers and families to understand and care for our living planet. The Loveland Living Planet Aquarium has appealed to people of all ages and reached millions with a message about understanding our worlds ecosystems, and that they are actually all one GLOBAL ecosystem, our Living Planet. The initial plan was to build a 90,000 square feet (8,400 m2) aquarium that showed ecosystems from around the world. Site 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. The first education component was launched in February 1999, when the Aquavan was outfitted with educational portable marine exhibits and began visiting Utah schools.
The vision for the Aquarium in essence began when a little boy received a Time Life book "The Sea" book from his grandmother about the oceans and waterways of the world. That set in motion the boy's dream to become a marine biologist and someday bring the wonders of the ocean to his arid Utah home. In 1997 Brent Andersen, now a grown man, began to implement his dream. He was determined to share his vision with students in Utah by creating a marine science "Aquavan" that would travel to elementary schools along the Wasatch Front. The first Aquavan was designed to be an exciting compliment to what the teachers would be teaching in their classrooms. Students would learn to identify, recognize and observe marine ecosystems. Interactive games, activities, and models are paired with the worlds ecosystems. Additional outreach vans were created in December 1999 (the Rain Forest Van) and May 2002 (the Utah Waters Van). . Today, numerous vans continue to travel to schools in every school district across the state providing the chance for hands-on learning.
In 2004, in order to garner support for the full-size aquarium, the young organization took a big leap when it opened a 10,000 sq ft exhibit at the Gateway Mall in downtown Salt Lake offering an exclusive experience of marine and freshwater life that was not then available in Utah's arid climate. The Living Planet Aquarium Preview Exhibit featured freshwater fish, sharks, stingrays, eels, a coral reef, a giant octopus, a small theater, and other interactive exhibits. Attendance reached over 150,000 visitors per year the first two years and the small space was quickly outgrown. The Aquarium relocated in June 2006 to a much larger 43,000 square feet (4,000 m2) space in Sandy, Utah. Attendance reached 460,000 visitors per year. The long range plan to eventually construct a campus that would house a state-of-the-art Aquarium and a Science Learning Center continued to get support from the community over the next 4 years and in 2010 several prominent members of the business community joined to lead the Board of Trustees 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 a lead gift that allowed the organization to purchase 17 acres of land and raise $27 million to build athe Aquaroium's permanent home in Draper, Utah.. The 136,000 square feet (12,600 m2) Loveland Living Planet Aquarium opened to the public on March 24th, 2014 and saw over 1.1 million visitors the first year of operation. The Aquarium is a 501(c)(3)non-profit organization.
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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 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 Utah houses 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 Rhu.
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.