TAMPA, Fla. — The Florida Aquarium announced a major expansion — its first major development since it opened in 1995.
The $40 million expansion was announced on Tuesday. It will create "innovative and immersive habitats and exhibits," according to a press release.
“We’re going to re-define, re-energize, and re-imagine the Florida Aquarium and provide opportunities not only for guests to experience, bring new animals, do more for conservation, and really, really create a dynamic aquarium that Tampa Bay deserves," said Roger Germann, the President and CEO of the Florida Aquarium.
According to aquarium officials, as part of the expansion, there will be a grand outdoor sea lion habitat that will feature California sea lions for the first time on Florida's west coast.
The expansion will also include a rotating special exhibit gallery, converting the second-floor lobby into a multi-species gallery featuring puffins and a significant African penguin habitat as part of the outdoor expansion.
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Germann said they want to give back to the community both through conservation and learning but also be an economic engine and a tourism driver.
“Our growth here at the Florida Aquarium has been unprecedented," said Germann. "By the time this project is over, there will be over a million people a year who come through the Florida Aquarium doors. That’s not only just great for our community, that’s great for our tourism economy, that’s great for local economy.”
The planned expansion, which includes three phases, is scheduled to begin in January 2023 and be completed in 2025.
“To be a world-class community, a cosmopolitan community, all the things that are happening in Tampa Bay, you need a world-class aquarium, and so we need to continue to drive, we need to continue to offer new experiences, be that world-class aquarium," said Germann.
Watch the full press conference below: