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For the first time since 1995, The Florida Aquarium is expanding and including habitats for new animals! The $40 million expansion will include an outdoor sea lion habitat and a rotating special exhibit gallery. The project will be built in three phases, beginning in January of 2023. The project is expected to be completed by 2025.

For the first time on the West coast of Florida, people can learn about and see California sea lions at the new outdoor exhibit. A significant African penguin habitat will also be part of the outdoor expansion. The aquarium also plans to convert the second floor lobby into a multi-species gallery that features puffins.

President and CEO, Roger Germann, hopes to captivate guest experiences and advance their commitment to saving wildlife and wildlife conservation. He stated: “Today we take a major step forward in building the world-class aquarium that Tampa Bay deserves.”

The designs of all three phases of expansion prioritize animal welfare standards. Phase 1 will transform the ballroom into a 3,700 square foot special exhibit hall. Phase 2, expected to begin in 2024, will feature a two-level puffin habitat complete with a kelp forest. This immersive habitat will feature multiple viewing windows measuring over 20’. Phase 3 is a little more complicated. This phase will feature three separate but interconnected sea lion spaces, a large main habitat and animal encounter habitat as well as a presentation space.

Viewing spaces are going to be a big draw for this new exhibit! An uniquely placed bubble viewing window will be a highlight at the African penguin habitat, especially for little ones!

We’re super excited to see how an already amazing Tampa attraction will grow over the next few years!

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