The new aquarium scheduled to open at the Kansas City Zoo on September 1 now has a name. It will be called Sobela Ocean Aquarium, which was selected by benefactors Barnett and Shirley Helzberg to honor their grandchildren — Sawyer, Oliver, Benton, Elias, Leo, Amelia, and Arthur.
“Today has been more than 10 years in the making and started with an idea that Barnett and Shirley Helzberg had for an aquarium at the Kansas City Zoo,” said Sean Putney, executive director and CEO of the zoo, according to Fox 4 News. “They knew that a lot of kids in Kansas City would never get to see the ocean in person, so they wanted to bring the ocean and all its wonders to them right here in the middle of the country. They made the first financial commitment to see the project come to life.”
The aquarium will feature six zones with 34 habitats, telling the story of how ocean currents connect animals across the globe. It will include more than 8,000 animals, such as sea otters, a sea turtle, sharks and a giant Pacific octopus.
More than five miles of pipes are located in a water filtration system to help keep each animal healthy. Admission to Sobela Ocean Aquarium will be included with either admission to the zoo or a Friends of the Zoo membership. In addition to providing a new amenity for zoo guests, the aquarium also will offer educational opportunities for children and open new pathways to ocean conservation and research.
The project’s total cost is $77 million, with $45 million coming from the Zoological District and $32 million from private donations. The Zoological District is made up of Jackson and Clay counties, which approved a one-eighth cent sales tax in 2011 to support the zoo. An additional $10 million in private donations is being raised for an endowment to support the future of the aquarium.
–Lee Hartman | Metro Voice