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(Al Hartmann | The Salt Lake Tribune) Children watch as a Gentoo Penguin streaks by underwater at the Living Planet Aquarium in Sandy. The Loveland Living Planet Aquarium announced its new expanded, state-of-the-art building in Draper will open March 25.
Utah’s new Living Planet Aquarium to open on March 25

Draper » New aquarium is triple the size of the old one; it will be 9th-biggest in U.S.

First Published Feb 21 2014 10:58 am • Last Updated Mar 24 2014 07:11 pm

It’s taken a bit longer than they’d hoped, but the folks at Loveland Living Planet Aquarium finally have an opening date for their new facility: March 25.

They closed the doors at their Sandy building in September and hoped to have the construction completed in December, but building a 136,000-square-foot aquarium that will feature 74 exhibitions and house thousands of animals in 600,000 gallons of water is no easy task.

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"With construction and with the animals, there’s all kind of variables," said Living Planet Aquarium spokeswoman Suzy Broadbent. "We’re excited that we’re finally close enough to announce that March 25 date."

There’s much more involved than just moving from the old site to the new home at 12033 S. Lone Peak Parkway in Draper. The new aquarium is three times the size of the 44,000-square-foot Sandy facility — it will be the ninth-largest aquarium in America — and patrons will immediately see big changes.

The old shark tank was 15,000 gallons; the new one is 300,000 gallons. It includes a 40-foot walk-through tunnel and will eventually be home to 2,000 animals.

The new penguin habitat is nearly 90,000 gallons, almost 10 times the penguin habitat in Sandy. It will eventually be home to as many as 50 birds from three species.

There was one touch pool in the Sandy aquarium; there are three in the new Draper building.

The Loveland Living Planet Aquarium will also feature a 4-D theater. (That’s 3-D plus "additional sensory effects" like "wind, mist, scents, leg and back ticklers and seat vibration/movement.")

And there’s a two-story Journey to South America exhibit that mimics the Amazon rainforest.

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