Loveland Living Planet Aquarium in Draper plans to expand

Education exhibit • Facility operators hope camps, labs will get kids interested in science.

| Courtesy of Loveland Living Planet Aquarium This rendering shows the new Science Learning Center at the Loveland Living Planet Aquarium in Draper. The new facility is designed to mirror the Wasatch Mountains and will open sometime in 2020.

Utah's aquarium is overflowing.

The Loveland Living Planet Aquarium in Draper will build a multimillion-dollar expansion to house its 80,000-square-foot Science Learning Center, the aquarium announced in a news release.

"The goal is to get kids interested in science through visits, through camps, through after-school programs," said Brent Andersen, founder and CEO of Loveland Living Planet Aquarium. "Creating that next generation of scientists to come along and get interested in science and follow through as a career is one of the biggest reasons why we're doing this."

The new facility will include space for classrooms, summer-camp programs and labs where Utah students from kindergarten through college can learn. The aquarium says it will be able host an additional 80,000 students per year after the expansion.

Andersen said that there is an overwhelming demand from educators in the state to come to the facility. The aquarium gives to students on field trips a discounted rate, including free admission for students from Title I schools.

In addition to educational facilities, the new space will house a five-story rainforest habitat and Endangered Species Conservation Center, which will help the aquarium continue to participate in efforts to study and breed endangered and protected species.

The total cost of the expansion is estimated to be $21 million, according to a news release. The Loveland Family Foundation already provided a $1 million donation to fund the initial planning and development of the new center. The aquarium will begin to raise money for the rest of the cost of the expansion, but Andersen said it will not raise admission.

Construction is expected to begin in fall 2018 and to be open to the public in 2020.