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2013 Top-Rated Nonprofit

The Living Planet Aquarium

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Animals, Centers to Support the Independence of Specific Populations, Education, Elementary & Secondary Schools, Environment, Human Services, Literacy, Natural Resources Conservation & Protection, Zoos & Aquariums

Mission: We inspire people to explore, discover and learn about Earth's diverse ecosystems.

Results: The Living Planet Aquarium has been committed to education from the beginning, and has created two unique educational outreach programs: The Utah Waters Van and the Rainforest Van. With support of the Utah State Office of Education and other key donors, 20 trained education team members visit nearly every elementary school in the state (over 650 schools annually) and impacts over 51,000 students and teachers with curriculum based educational programs and workshops. Over 15,000 students and teachers visit the Aquarium for curriculum oriented field trips. TLPA is committed to being a quality resource for science and math education initiatives throughout the state and offers professional development workshops for fourth grade teachers. The goal of the program is to support effective science instruction in the classroom by training teachers to engage students with important, relevant science content, equipment and resources. In all, over 500,000 students statewide have benefited from quality supplemental science-based programming that has been shown to improve year-end test scores. Since 2004, TLPA has interacted with over 1.6 million visitors. Attendance numbers have shown impressive growth each and every year, with a 178% increase in attendance over the past 5 years. TLPA currently has over 28,000 annual members. The Aquarium is committed to growing in a fiscally responsible manner and has successfully funded operations completely from earned revenue (gate receipts, gift shop sales, and facility rentals) since 2004. Therefore, support from individual donors, corporations, and foundations have been allocated to the growth and expansion of the facility, education outreach, and exhibit enhancement. As the aquarium’s attendance has increased, the operating budget has matched, growing each year as staff and programs have expanded.

Programs: Exhibits, education presentations, education outreach, Teacher Professional Development, School field trips, Scout workshops

Community Stories

46 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

General Member of the Public

Rating: 4

A great afternoon to spend with your kids.

This aquarium focuses very nicely on varieties of animals kids in Utah might not otherwise have an opportunity to see. We've visited this aquarium so many times, I really can't count. We've seen it grow from it's original location in downtown Salt Lake, to it's current location in Sandy, Utah. We look forward to it's continued growth.

Our travels have allowed us to visit very large aquariums in other cities. By comparison, Utah's aquarium is still in its very early stages. However, The Living Planet Aquarium has made a great effort to provide themed settings and appropriate ambiance. There is always the sense that you have stepped into a different world. Local water habitats of the west have not been overlooked, which is greatly appreciated. Marsh settings of the arid west and mountain lake habitats are represented among the many offerings. Overall, the aim appears to be an educational experience with emphasis on children and youth.

My kids always canvas the entire aquarium. They want to visit everything on every visit. By far, they enjoy the penguins exhibit and the opportunity to pet the rays in the open pools. The newer South American exhibits are really fascinating to my kids, especially since they are fond of watching "River Monsters" on TV. The large fish of South America are represented in the aquarium's collection.

We have enjoyed the privilege of invitations to childrens' birthday parties held at the aquarium as well as the opportunity to attend summer camps. It's a nice way for the kids to explore the aquarium with a guide who provides an age-appropriate educational experience.

There is an appealing gift shop with a range of items and a cafe that's nice to have on hand. A longer visit will inevitably lead to hunger and thirst! The outing is complete when we enjoy lunch together in the cafe. There is a somewhat limited choice, but the kids lunch in a basket is enjoyable and healthy. Sometimes we choose to enjoy a soft drink or a bottled water as the refreshment for our visit.

Also, the drinking fountain and restrooms appear clean and well maintained.

I would recommend the aquarium to anyone with kids 12 and under. Older children will enjoy it as well, but the younger kids are very likely to request return visits. It's cool inside in the heat of the summer and a pleasant retreat from cold and gray winter days. The Living Planet Aquarium has held a regular place in our play date repertoire.

1

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Love this aquarium! We never get sick of going and plan to renew our membership agian. The set up is great and I feel like it is an enjoyable learning experience each time my family goes.

1 Amanda Mitchell G.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

I love this aquarium! I have 2 young children that are very active and they stayed completely entertained the whole time we were there-nearly 2 hours. The prices are very family friendly and the staff was so amazing! My girls still talk about the "amazing aquarium with the sharks, and penguins and cool stuff!" Such a great family day! We bought a year pass and we'll happily make the hour drive to enjoy it again!

1

Client Served

Rating: 5

With its touch tide pools. interesting and informative exhibits, and creative layout, The Living Planet Aquarium is a fun and educational place for families.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

I am very impressed with The Living Planet Aquarium! My kids love it every time we go. Ever since the first time we visited with my then 2-year old son, he has been very interested in fish and other aquatic creatures. I love that his interests go beyond Spiderman and Batman, and I believe The Living Planet Aquarium has a lot to do with that.

Tina J.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

We love to visit the living planet aquarium. The River otters, and the penguins are our favorite to watch. When ever you have a question there is always someone knowledgeable to help. This is a great place for indoor family fun!!

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

This acquarium is wonderful. The people who work there are knowledgeable and courteous. There is such a wide variety of sealife and opportunities to learn new things. I have a membership and go often.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

I have been to the aquarium with my grandchildren several times. And it doesn't matter how many times we go, they still enjoy going. The exhibits never get old. they love watching what they animals do and could stay all day. They love to play in the play area. I can hardly wait to see what the new aquarium will be like. I know my grandshildren will enjoy that one even more.

Stephanie88

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

I love to visit the Aquarium. I took my 13 year old Nephew with me the first time we went and he begs me to take him there every time he comes to stay with me. Now he is 15 and we still love to go to the Aquarium to see all of the amazing things there are to see. I think that is pretty awesome for a teenager. Great job, TLPA. I would love to volunteer, but my declining health makes that impolsible, but that would be so much fun.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

My two boys and I are big fans. Since we live in land-locked Salt Lake City, marine life is not part of our normal day-to-day experiences, and an afternoon at the aquarium is a real treat for us. My boys both like the hands-on ray tank where they can touch the rays (like a petting zoo, but for fish). I like the sharks, especially the ones in the big tank. The fresh water stuff is pretty interesting as well (I get to point to a rainbow trout and say something like "those live in the river by the cabin.").

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

There are few things in life so amazing as to be worth not only doing them for pay, but doing them for free, even paying to do them. This is how I felt about my time at the aquarium. There are some jobs that when you leave, you never want to see them again. This is not so with TLPA. I chose to go back and volunteer for the aquarium AFTER working for them. I enjoyed every moment of while I was there and would recommend it to anyone. The aquarium is like a box of swimming jewels comprable with aquariums I have seen around the world.

Anitra R.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 3

Hello,
i find my experiences at the aquarium allot of fun. I have my membership so I can bring my three year old to look at the animals and hopefully learn a little bit about them. For the purposes of my young child this meets my expectations. However, being a visually impaired individual I think that a way you could make this more accessable to people with a vision issue is to find a way to put what is said about the animal in brale without disrupting the print that is there of finding a way to make a booklet of the discriptions of the animals in braile and in large print so that people with a form of visual impairment can also learn about all the animals because it is difficult for a blind parent or blind child to learn about the animals there when we can not read about them at least.

Steve73

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

I would like to thank the LPA for letting us hold our Salt water Club meetings there!!! They rock!

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

What a fun place to visit with my grandsons. I first visited The Living Planet Aquarium on a whim due to cold weather and wanting to take my grandsons someplace. It was so happily surprised. Although currently in a small building (they will be moving this summer to a very large location) there is a great use of space and many wonderful exhibits. There are always some aquatic animals who are active. The shark tank has a wide variety of critters to watch. The penguins are always active and entertaining. The octopus (if one is lucky enough to be there at feeding time) is amazing to watch. After our first visit we decided to become members and although we live about 35 miles away we visit 3 times a year, often taking additional people with us. We are excited for the new location and new animals. I have recommended to many friends that this is a fun place to visit.

Chantel G.

Client Served

Rating: 5

I love going to visit the Living Planet Aquarium. I have two children who are 10 years apart in age and they both love going. Our favorite areas are the shark tank and ray exhibit where you can actually get a chance to touch the rays. We also like the penguins and other exhibits. Overall, it's an excellent place to visit!

General Member of the Public

Rating: 3

Staff is always friendly. Some days parking is practically non-existent. Otters are almost always asleep when we come, so we never get to see them. The 'petting zoo' is exciting for all ages. A bit much forcing everyone to walk through the gift shop on exiting. This is an emotional hardship on the children of parents or other adults who cannot afford to buy them anything on each visit, and is definitely something I dread when it's time to leave. ( Please locate it elsewhere in the new location. )

Kit_

Client Served

Rating: 5

We LOVE to visit the Living Planet Aquarium! I have 3 children, two of which have special needs. We first went to the aquarium in 2011. We weren't sure what to expect but thought we would give it a try. I'll never forget watching my kids eyes light up at the sight of the jelly fish, and the sharks. Every exhibit is well maintained, and every animal there is, you can see moving about actively. The animals all seem very happy and content. As the years have gone by, and more and more animals are put on display, my kids seem to enjoy it just as much as the first time we went. The paths are very wide, and it is easy for someone with a stroller, wheelchair, or walker, in our case, to get through easily to see every exhibit. There are steps up for smaller children to stand on so they can independently view each tank, and a children's area where the tanks are down on the floor. It's such a great place with lots to see, and plenty of hands on activities.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 4

As a biology teacher, and a parent, I feel the Living Planet Aquarium is an amazing resource for people of all ages. The displays are engaging, hands-on, and well-presented. I take my daughter there every time we visit Utah. I grew up in Salt Lake City and only wish something like this was available in the Salt Lake area when I was a child. I teach in Nevada and am always amazed at how little children who don’t live near the ocean know about aquatic life. Facilities like the Living Planet Aquarium allow people of all ages to experience and learn about aquatic life in a variety of ways---I recommend it highly!

mick002

General Member of the Public

Rating: 4

The Aquarium is a great excursion for young children. I especially like to visit when the weather is poor and I want to get out of the house. There is a surprising amount of aquatic life at the current/temporary location and numerous interactive exhibits. The price of a season pass is inexpensive and my two years old daughter's entry is free. Can't wait to see the new location!

Client Served

Rating: 5

As a child I grew up by the ocean. It is amazing watching fish and other sea creatures live. The Living Aquarium is an wonderful place to enjoy the sea and all of the creatures in it. I love to take my 3 year old grandson and share my knowledge with him. I have also had the pleasure of having experts from the aquarium teach my 4th grade students about the water cycle. I love having The Living Planet Aquarium in Salt Lake City and I hope they continue to grow both in size and in our community. Thank You,
Rachel Summers

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

I love the aquarium! We bought passes this year and take my kids regularly. It has grown so much in the last few years since I was in college. There are Loy's of great animals and exhibits to se. Definitely great for all ages. My favorite are the river otters and penguins.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 4

My (almost) 2 year old daughter and I love going to the aquarium! The annual pass is extremely affordable and the exhibits are really fun for both of us to see. I really like the "talks" they do for each of the different animals because they offer great info and allow visitors to ask questions. My daughter loves climbing up on the various platforms to get a good look at the animals and I appreciate the easy flow from one exhibit to the next.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

My husband and I love to scuba dive and see the wonderful sea creatures in their habitats. The Living Planet Aquarium has been a wonderful getaway for us and our kids/grand kids to go see some of these marvelous creatures even though we live in Salt Lake and are at >4,000ft. altitude. They do a wonderful job of the habitats for the fresh and salt water life. They have remarkably good variety for our location and it's a great chance for the kids to be exposed to sea life, which they don't come in contact with on a day to day basis. I wish I'd been able to experience something like this when I was a kid. I had NO idea what the ocean was like until I was 16 and how extraordinarily beautiful that world is. I'm so grateful that we have this wonderful aquarium and I've been able to see it grow and become more impressive over the last 5 years!

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

My two kids and I LOVE going to the aquarium. We have a yearly pass so we never have to wait in line and we go about once a month. We also take advantage of the early admission every 3rd Monday of the month.

Brittanie P.

Client Served

Rating: 5

Last year in May we booked my son's 2nd birthday party at the aquarium. Not only was the party reasonably priced, the staff was amazing and helping us set up everything, clean-up, and they were super friendly. The only thing I would love more is to have more time in party rooms without having an extra fee. But anyways, after the party our entire family was able to go through the aquarium which was amazing because here in Utah we don't have very many indoor family activities to do, especially learning activities such as learning about our wildlife and their habitats. I am excited for the new facility to open up and I just hope there will be more facilities like this one that will open in Utah over time.

Betty O.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

I brought my 6 year old grandson for a outing with grandma. I was very pleasantly surprised and educated about sea animals that we don't often get to see here in Utah. I had a wonderful experience and I know my grandson did, becasue about halfway through looking at the animals he just yells out
"This place is Awesome." So we will be back for sure.
Betty Olson
West Point, Utah

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

I love that we have such an amazing learning experience here in Utah. I take my nephew and niece there a lot and cannot wait to be able to take my son here. It's been a place my husband and I have gone to just to 'escape'. There is something calming about watching the beautiful creatures move. Watching the aquarium evolve over the years has been great. The staff are friendly and enthusiastic and I feel like I still learn something new each time I go.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

My family went for a visit to the living planet aquarium and loved it. My grandson and daughter loved the shark pool, they couldn't get enough of feeding and petting the little sharks.

Marie38

General Member of the Public

Rating: 4

I first came here in 2010 for my 3 year old, who absolutely loved it, and now my family each gets a pass every year! The secret is that I love it just as much as my kids! I am amazed every time that there are tons of exhibits! And our favorite thing is that you can actually touch stingray and a shark! Love, love, love this place!

Rob_18

Client Served

Rating: 5

My kids love this place!
Sure, we like the zoo, but it's hot and the weather is unpredictable. Because of this, the aquarium is one of our favorite rainy-day or crazy-hot-day destinations.
It's educational, fascinating, and down-right pleasant.
They've also packed in the attractions, so we can even take grandparents and not worry about having to make them walk too far to enjoy themselves.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 4

I love visiting the aquarium and so does my 2 year old son. The aquarium is just down the street for us, which makes it very convenient to stop by and visit. The membership cost is a wonderful deal, so we frequent often. We love the aquarium and can't wait for the new location to open and have more spaces to explore.

The form wasn't quite working properly, so I would likely volunteer and I believe this organization is life-changing for the state of utah.

Donor

Rating: 5

The residents of Utah are so lucky to have such a unique place to go for entertainment and learning. Many of the things at The Living Planet Aquarium are only found by traveling miles away, such as penguins from the Antarctic, sharks, rays, sea horses and an adorable sea turtle to name a few. It's unique in that it showcases ecosystems which provides visitors with a number of diverse exhibits for visitors to experience.

I can't wait for the new Aquarium and how much more it will have to offer the residents of Utah and those coming to visit the area!

1 Ronnie4

Donor

Rating: 5

The Living Planet Aquarium is a wonderful place for a family adventure. My kids love seeing all the animals and learning about where they come from. Where else in Utah can you pet a shark? I love the Aquarium!

1 Karli H.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I have worked at the Living Planet Aquarium for almost a year now and I love it! I get to talk to people every day who are interested in the animals at the aquarium. I always get to see smiling faces and happy children who love sharks, otters, penguins, and colorful fish (just to name a few!) People who come to visit often tell me how much they love the aquarium and how well they think we have done with it. I am happy to be a part of such an amazing organization and would encouage anyone to come visit at least once.

2

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

The Living Planet Aquarium is a wonderful place where people who can't normally interact with aquatic and marine animals (being that we are landlocked here in Utah) can explore and learn all about the wonderful oceanic life in this world. You feel as if you are actually there in that environment with beautiful murals and so many different species of animals. It helps to inspire people to learn more about the natural world and how we can do our part to help and change its current situation.

1

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

The Living Planet Aquarium is a great place for families to visit. There are all sorts of amazing animals to see and even some that you can touch. The staff are friendly and knowledgeable, and there is always something going on during the day. The afternoon feeds are worth watching as well.

1 Kimberlee T.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

This aquarium is community in all sense of the word. Since its creation the area in which I grew up became more active and involved than I have ever seen it. I got an annual pass just so I could drop by at any time and I know a number of people who do otherwise. Going to the aquarium is as entertaining and enthralling, and as easy, as going to the park but with the perk of animals. Children love it. Parents love it. Our community loves it. Thank you!

1 DeeAnn L.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

We love going there. It is great for all ages. The penguins are our favorite. I don't have money to donate unless paying for our admission to get in is donating.

1 Elizabeth98

Volunteer

Rating: 4

It is a grate way to learn and aprishate the animals and sealife and the evorment and it is good mind teropy

2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I did a husbandry internship there. They make everyone feel super welcome, like a family member there. I love it there, it's like my second home.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

While this certainly isn't the largest and most diverse aquarium out there, it gives off the feeling of community every time you walk in. As a volunteer, I look forward to the time I spend in the aquarium as a joyful and relaxing break from my busy life. The staff is wonderful to work with, as well as all those who volunteer with me. It's very exciting to watch this wonderful place grow into a larger facility that is even more capable of meeting the needs of the community!

1

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

We only visited Living Planet Aquarium for the first time a few weeks ago but we will be going back. It is a very unique place for the kids of Utah to have hands on experiences with animals they don't often get to see. We are very much looking forward to the new expanded location. This aquarium is a huge asset to Utah.

1 Deana Y.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

The Living Planet Aquarium is a great place to learn about the variety of ecosytems in our world. The staff is well trained to share their knowledge about the collection at the Aquarium. They also strive to create a more hands-on experience for visitors of all ages. There is always something to do or see that will add value to your visit, whether its feeding the stingrays or meeting the penguins, all are available as an enhancement to your visit. I have visited numerous zoos and aquariums and feel that the Living Planet Aquarium is a great value both educationally and entertainment wise.

1

Donor

Rating: 5

Living Planet has been a part of Salt Lake County for many years now, first at their tiny space in the Gateway, and now at the larger Sandy location. Each time I visit I see the care and concern they put into their animals and the facility. Their staff is friendly and helpful as well as knowledgable about the aquarium. I've interacted with their educational staff in my capacity as a classroom teacher and a science methods instructor. My daughter liked the Living Planet so much that she now regularly volunteers for them. My husband and I just bought a year long membership for ourselves. We're looking forward to seeing their new facility. We've been able to donate small amounts of money to them over the years and we're hoping to make a larger conribution to help with the new building. They are a much needed educational and recreational landmark in our area. Way to go, Living Planet!

1 Matthew22

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

I have enjoyed my experiences at the Aquarium. The staff is very friendly and helpful. They have a great knowledge of the animals they are talking about. I enjoy bringing my 2 year old son to the aquarium because he loves fish. He will run all over the aquarium. The facility is great I enjoy the new exhibits they will bring in. The change in the touch pond was awesome I love being able to interact with new animals. I am so excited for the new aquarium to open it is going to be an awesome place to visit. I tell everyone to go and see the aquarium. My family bought the 2 year pass last year and we have gone so many times to the aquarium. One of my favorite places to visit.

1 Janet K.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

I have been taking our children to the Aquarium for several years now. We recently renewed our membership, and I was so pleased and excited to see how much it has grown this year! The wide variety of animals has grown, as has the facility, but the "personal touch" of the staff has grown even more personal with the scheduled shows led by the staff. To be able to ask questions of someone instead of just reading the descriptive plaques enhanced our experience. The Bio Station seems to be continually staffed, too. I appreciate the generosity of the Benefactors of the Aquarium as well-- the Living Planet Aquarium is a very top-notch facility, and we as a family look forward to many years of membership. (Hooray for those adorable penguins, too!)