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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

3 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters


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


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!



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!