Tampa, FL (August 16, 2022): The Florida Aquarium announced today a $40-million expansion plan that will include several exciting new exhibits; most notably a grand outdoor sea lion habitat. The project, which has three phases, will begin in January of 2023 is scheduled to be completed in 2025. The $40M capital project includes the addition of a rotating special exhibit gallery, converting the second-floor lobby into to multi-species gallery that features puffins, and a large-scale outdoor exhibit featuring, first time on the west coast of Florida, California sea lions. A significant African penguin habitat will also be part of the outdoor expansion.
“We are reinvigorating The Florida Aquarium by creating innovative and immersive habitats and exhibits, providing captivating guest experiences, and expanding our dynamic animal collection that advances our commitment to saving wildlife and wild places,” said Roger Germann, president and CEO. “Today we take a major step forward in building the world-class aquarium that Tampa Bay deserves.”
This marks the first major expansion to include new animal habitats since the Aquarium’s opening in 1995.
An expanded guest experience and pathway responds to a growing marketplace and historic visitor attendance at The Florida Aquarium in recent years. It also delivers on the Aquarium’s mission to connect guests to the marine world in meaningful and inspiring ways. Equally as important, the expansion helps The Florida Aquarium deliver on its promise to have a more global perspective in conservation.
Space Haus, an esteemed architectural design firm known for their expertise in the zoo and aquarium industry, led the creative design of the expansion project. Their list of clients also includes The Shedd Aquarium, National Aquarium of New Zealand, and the Dallas and Kansas City Zoos.
The designs of all three phases of expansion prioritize animal welfare standards. Phase I of the project, which is scheduled for completion in 2023, will transform the existing ballroom space in the Mosaic Center into a 3,700- square foot flexible and dynamic special exhibit hall. Phase II, slated for 2024, will transport visitors to the rocky coasts and will feature an extraordinary two-level puffin habitat complete with a kelp forest, Atlantic salmon and other larger fish species. Multiple viewing windows measuring over 20’ will allow guests to see the numerous nesting sites and deep dive pool of this 45,000-gallon habitat for the beautiful and fun-to-watch birds.
The planned completion for the third and most ambitious phase will be 2025. Three separate but interconnected sea lion spaces, which collectively measure over 200,000 gallons, will include both a large main habitat and animal encounter habitat as well as a presentation space including underwater viewing and overlook seating. The outdoor plaza will include a 39,500-gallon African penguin habitat which will allow for optimal welfare to a colony of up to 30 penguins. A uniquely placed bubble viewing window will be a highlight for young guests. A park-like atmosphere for the plaza will enhance an already exceptional experience.
Fundraising is already underway for this major expansion that will attract more guests, elevate the guest experience, expand conservation impact and further establish The Florida Aquarium as a leader among Florida’s cultural attractions.
Contact The Florida Aquarium firstname.lastname@example.org
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