Today is World Ocean Day, a day that calls all global citizens to protect and restore Earth’s oceans. With that in mind, it is a perfect day to feature one the nation’s top aquariums, Loveland Living Planet Aquarium in Draper, Utah.
What began as a single Aqua Van that visited schools in 1999 is now a facility home to over 4,000 animals — a facility that just welcomed its 6 millionth guest since the opening of its Draper location in 2015.
“Our guests get the opportunity to explore the ocean from our tidepool touch pools to the deep sea,” said Brent Beardsley, public programs manager at Loveland Living Planet Aquarium. “We have sharks, sea turtles, stingrays and numerous other animals that people don’t normally see.”
The two-story aquarium has multiple animal habitats, like the Penguin Research Station and Expedition Asia.
Explore a deep sea submersible replica at the Deep Sea Lab and discover giant isopods, Japanese spider crabs and Pacific hagfish. North American river otters and Bonneville cutthroat trout can be seen at the Discover Utah habitat — as well as other native Utah animals.
In addition to marine life and species that heavily depend on it, Loveland boasts tropical rainforests from South America and Asia, where students can see a two-toed sloth, clouded leopards, giant arapaima, free flying tropical birds and hundreds of tropical plants.
“There are no empty exhibits in the aquarium,” Beardsley said. “Some of our animals are very good at hiding, but if you take some time (or ask an educator for help), you will be able to find amazing animals all throughout our facility.”
On top of guided tours for students, Loveland also offers animal encounters throughout the year.
“The aquarium provides an immersive experience as you discover nature up close and in person,” Beardsley said.
Formerly the stage for U2’s renowned 360° Tour, the Ecosystem Exploration Craft & Observatory (EECO) at Loveland is a permanent art installation at the aquarium and doubles as a space for private events and public experiences. EECO stands at 16 stories tall and is made of 200 tons of reused steel.
EECO is additionally part of the Science Learning Campus — the soon-to-be home of the Science Learning Center. The new space will include a five-story Asian Cloud Forest Habitat & Endangered Species Conservation Center, interactive exhibits, high-tech classrooms, laboratories and more.
“This is an amazing facility that has both indoor and outdoor exhibits to see,” Beardsley said. “You can easily spend an entire day here looking through our exhibits. There is access to great food at the café, meaning that you can stay all day without worry.”
For more information on booking a student group tour, call 801-355-3474 or go to thelivingplanet.com.