Where else in the world is water so valued and respected? It's a precious resource that defines how we live in Utah. Because we are not surrounded by oceans and immense water habitats, we have fewer opportunities to experience, understand and appreciate the water environments that cover more than 70 percent of our planet. The Living Planet Aquarium brings animals to people who might not have the chance to see them or their water-based ecosystems in a natural setting.
The Living Planet Aquarium was founded by marine biologist Brent Andersen in 1997 and continues to grow through the addition and enhancements of new exhibits and programs. Our outreach education programs have been operating since January 1999 and have reached ~ 360,000 Utah students. In June of 2004, a Preview Exhibit of The Living Planet Aquarium at the Gateway Mall was opened. This 10,000 square foot public exhibit displayed local freshwater animals and marine life from around the world, and offered an exclusive experience never before available in Utah, and attendance far exceeded projections with over 150,000 visitors per year. Due to this overwhelming demand, the Preview Exhibit, was relocated to much larger (43,000 sq ft) building in Sandy in the summer of 2006. Currently, exhibits feature sharks, rays, seahorses, jellyfish as well as octopus, eels, starfish, amphibians, trout and other freshwater species, providing a unique opportunity for the many landlocked Utahns, particularly children, who have not previously had the chance to interact with such creatures. Since re-opening in June 2006, the Aquarium has added 5 major new exhibits, and attendance has risen to over 250,000 per year (and growing). The Living Planet most recently opened a 7,000 sq ft exhibit hall to take visitors on an aquatic Journey to South America.
The Living Planet offers many education programs within the community, as well. Our two educational outreach programs, The Utah Waters Van, and the Rainforest Van, which visit Utah elementary school students, have continued to expand every year. This year´s (2008-2009) programs will educate students and teachers alike by bringing free, core-curriculum designed, hands-on learning to over 51,000 students around the state, including every 4th grader statewide.
The Living Planet also maintains a Marine Science Center in partnership with Woods Cross High School. This facility utilizes resident animals and systems provided by TLPA to teach high school students about marine biology, chemistry and animal husbandry.
The employees of The Living Planet Aquarium endorse and embrace the mission, vision and future direction of this important educational organization. The Living Planet Aquarium management and staff are proud of the respect earned in the educational, environmental, conservation and museum communities -- for principles, practices and leadership devoted to creating a healthier and more caring "living planet."
The future is bright indeed with tremendous potential. The Living Planet most recently opened the newest expansion, an aquatic-themed rainforest exhibit called "Journey to South America." Visitors will enjoy the vivid sights, sounds and intriguing animals, such as giant anacondas, piranhas, poison arrow frogs and other Amazon giants, found in the South American Rainforests. The exhibit will also educate guests about the biodiversity of rainforest ecosystems, the benefits rainforests provide us and how we can all help protect these amazing habitats!
The entire LPA team are committed to excellence in education, while working actively with community and science partners to create understanding of the critical nature of environmental conservation and stewardship.