The new Kansas City Zoo aquarium is gushing toward the fin-ish line. Officials announced the opening date will be Friday, Sept. 1.
“The last time we gathered at this site, which was about a year and a half ago, we had announced the initial construction,” Wesley Fields, Chair of Friends of the Zoo Board of Directors, said. “It’s kind of hard to believe what can occur in an 18 month period.”
Leaders also announced the new name — Sobela Ocean Aquarium. The name is an acronym for Shirley Helzberg’s grandchildren — Sawyer, Oliver, Benton, Elias, Leo, Amelia, and Arthur. Helzberg was a major donor in the fundraising effort.
Access to the Sobela Ocean Aquarium will be included with Zoo admission and memberships.
Here’s what’s in shore
The 650,000-gallon aquarium will feature 8,000 animals, including sea otters, sharks, a sea turtle, and a giant Pacific octopus. 34 exhibits plan to tell the stories of ocean currents, habitats, and conservation.
“Adding to the successes we’ve seen in Kansas City in recent years [...] We add this: Something that will entertain generations of Kansas City,” Mayor Quinton Lucas said. “And more than anything, that will allow this city to remain world class and to be the dynamic tourist destination, entertainment, academic destination that we know it to be.”
All accounted for
The majority of funding for the aquarium came from the Zoological District, a tax base established by voters in Jackson and Clay counties in 2012. This eighth-cent sales tax contributed $45,000 to the project. The rest was met by private donations.
“This is a great day not just for the zoo and the aquarium but for the partnership that exists between Clay and Jackson counties,” Jerry Nolte, Clay County Commissioner, said.