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Tampa, Fla. – The Florida Aquarium announced 14-months of infrastructure expansion, exhibit enhancement, and fun, engaging onsite and community events to celebrate 25 years. The Florida Aquarium opened its doors on March 31, 1995, in what was then a mostly undeveloped Channel District. Since then, The Florida Aquarium has grown with the area, becoming a bedrock attraction in the Tampa Bay community and a conservation leader in the world.
In recognition of its past achievements and with an eye on future success, The Florida Aquarium President and CEO, Roger Germann presented a series of projects and initiatives to grow the animal collection, create new guest experiences, expand conservation efforts, provide learning opportunities to more schoolchildren and further integrate into the community. To achieve these goals, The Florida Aquarium announced $5.6 million worth of capital investment this year – part of a larger $14 million capital campaign. These projects include:
-The CIBC Aquatic Lounge – Opening Feb 27, 2020
The CIBC Aquatic Lounge gallery will feature several state-of-the-art exhibits to showcase new animals at the Aquarium. Located adjacent to the Aquarium’s popular event space, the CIBC Aquatic Lounge will also be available as a reception gathering location for corporate and private events. This avant-garde exhibit experience is made possible through a new, multi-year partnership with CIBC Bank USA.
-Washed Ashore – Art to Save the Sea – Opening Spring 2020
A world-renowned traveling art exhibition featuring sculptures made entirely of plastic debris collected from beaches, Washed Ashore – Art to Save the Sea unmasks the impacts of plastic pollution on oceans, waterways, and wildlife. Working closely with the artist, this exhibit has been curated specifically for The Florida Aquarium. This is the first time this exhibit will be displayed in the state of Florida.
-Wetlands Trail Exhibit with Enhancement – Opening Summer 2020
Exploring the legendary Florida Wetlands Trail – home to alligators, otters, and free-flying birds – this signature experience will receive a new, interactive exhibit; modernized theming; and new entry marquee. The new, hands-on experience will provide guests with an opportunity to touch animals native to our Florida waters.
-Bays & Beaches Gallery Improvements – Opening Fall 2020
This long-standing gallery will be completely modernized, including new habitats, graphics, and interactive exhibitory. It will also receive a new name – Shorelines. Shorelines will open in fall of this year and feature new habitats and opportunities to learn and engage with animals who live in the shorelines of oceans around the world.
-TECO Rooftop Pavilion & Solar Exhibit – Opening Fall 2020
The TECO Rooftop Pavilion is made possible through an innovative collaboration with our longtime, premier partner TECO, an Emera Company, along with support from Hillsborough County and ARAMARK. TECO and The Florida Aquarium are focusing on our mutual desire to promote energy alternatives in the Sunshine State. Over 1,100 panels will cover our two largest habitats providing an upgrade to our existing (and original) canopies, as well as provide an opportunity to educate our guests about the importance of solar power.
-Coral Complex Additions: Coral Arks 3-7 – November 2020/Fall 2021
Through support from the State of Florida and our partners at the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission, we will be expanding our coral conservation facilities. Located on the Florida Conservation & Technology Center campus in Apollo Beach, our Center for Conservation will receive five new greenhouses. The completion of Coral Ark #3 in November 2020 will increase, by 50 percent, The Florida Aquarium’s capacity to hold, breed, and rear corals, including the first-ever induced-spawning of an Atlantic coral. The remaining Coral Arks will be brought online in 2021. These new facilities expand the ground-breaking scientific advancements we made this past summer and will allow us to return thousands more endangered coral colonies to the Florida Reef Tract.
-Community Butterfly Garden– March 2021
The generous support of the Tampa Bay community has helped make these past 25 years a great success. As a gesture of gratitude, the Aquarium will open a temporary, community butterfly garden located in the front of our building for the public to enjoy for free. It’s our way of saying thank you to an amazing community who has done so much for us throughout the years.
Throughout the 25th celebration, The Aquarium is also focusing on enhancing guest engagement and providing 14-months of fun, both onsite and across neighborhoods and bridges. The Aquarium will be offering special promotions like specially priced days for Florida residents, impromptu giveaways and surprises, never before offered nighttime festivities for adults and a commemorative 25th anniversary beer. The Florida Aquarium plans to “wow” guests and the public every day.
The Aquarium has many events planned for our 25th anniversary, guests can expect events such as $19.95 days, starting January 25 and 26, and on selected weekends throughout the year. Admission for Florida residents will be $19.95 – to celebrate the year we were founded. We have many other events planned as well, from our first ever adult slumber party, a 21 and up Spring Break celebration with a 90s twist, Corona Summer Nights with extended hours on Thursdays in June and July, and 25th Anniversary reimagining of your favorite events like SeaGrapes and Brews By the Bay.
“The last 25 years have given us plenty of reasons to celebrate," said Roger Germann, President and CEO of The Florida Aquarium. “Today we ask, ‘What’s Next?’ The investment we are making in our Aquarium is an investment in Tampa Bay as a cultural attraction, an economic driver, a conservation leader, a pillar of the community, and a fun place to visit. We are focused on the triple bottom line as we grow into the next 25 years. We invite the entire Tampa Bay community – from St Petersburg to Clearwater and from Plant City to Tampa – to join us on this thrilling journey and enjoy and support our world-class Aquarium. Together, we will create another 25 years of lifetime memories, spark a love of science and nature, and protect and restore our one and only blue planet we call home.”
Learn more about all of the 25th anniversary celebration happenings at www.flaquarium.org.
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About The Florida Aquarium
The Florida Aquarium actively participates in and promotes stewardship of the natural environment as part of our mission of conservation. As a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization, The Florida Aquarium provides an opportunity to see over 8,000 aquatic and terrestrial animals, explore complex ecosystems, look for wild dolphins in Tampa Bay, play at the Splash Pad and more! Ranked #2 Aquarium in North America in a recent USA TODAY’S 10Best Readers’ Choice Awards, the aquarium is more than a must-see attraction, The Florida Aquarium is working to protect and restore our blue planet on many conservation fronts, including research and rescue efforts that help restore Florida’s sea turtle and coral populations and to ensure that sharks continue to swim our seas. In August of 2019, The Florida Aquarium, in partnership with Project Coral, became the first to successfully spawn critically endangered pillar coral in a laboratory. To learn more, follow us on social media at @floridaaquarium and visit www.flaquarium.org.