New Aquarium Opening in 2023!

Bringing the ocean to Kansas City will not only dramatically enhance visitors' experience; it will also open new pathways to ocean conservation, education and research.

Scheduled to open in 2023, the aquarium will be situated near Helzberg Penguin Plaza, within easy distance of the front gate and accessible year-round.

Due to strong voter support for the Zoological District sales tax, admission will be included as part of a visitor’s regular zoo ticket. Residents of Jackson and Clay counties will continue to receive 50% off their ticket price as well as opportunities for four free visits a year. In addition, area schools will be able to add the Kansas City Zoo’s Aquarium to their list of field trips, which are free for Jackson and Clay county schools.

The aquarium will feature six major habitats supported by more than 30 smaller exhibits. The habitats will tell the story of how ocean currents connect animals across the globe. Visitors will begin at the warm-water shore habitat and go "deeper" through habitats that feature mangrove forests, sandy shores, tropical lagoons, coral reefs, and the deep ocean. Visitors will then "ascend" through a kelp forest, and end at a cold-water rocky shore habitat. Each habitat will showcase a wide variety of fascinating ocean life, immersing visitors in the experience of being at the ocean, despite being in the middle of the country.

Father holding toddler girl and standing next to mother looking into zoo exhibit

"Many children in Kansas City have not had the opportunity to visit the sea, touch the sand, or smell the ocean. Having an aquarium in our city will make those dreams come true for all children, regardless of socioeconomic status. The whole family will be able to enjoy a trip to the ocean, right here in Kansas City!"

Ana Hernandez, in glasses and colorful hat, smiling

Ana Hernandez

Sales Manager at LA MEGA KC and Friends of the Zoo board member

Boy, two girls and father looking into aquarium exhibit

Based on a thorough feasibility study conducted by a third party, the Kansas City Zoo’s aquarium is expected to:

  • Continue the Zoo’s growth in annual attendance and membership, since it will provide an additional indoor, year-round attraction
  • Add approximately 100 new jobs at the Zoo
  • Increase tourism by creating another destination draw, especially for visitors who live outside of Kansas City (Visit KC estimates that every visitor who stays overnight in Kansas City spends an average of $182)
  • Generate $14 million in economic return annually based on a projection of 1.3 million annual visitors, an increase of 300,000 annually, bringing the Zoo’s economic benefit to $43.8 million each year
  • Augment the Kansas City Zoo’s venues for programming, family campouts, rentals and catering, increasing revenue

Help us make waves!

Creating a world-class aquarium is one of the most exciting projects the Kansas City Zoo has ever embarked upon. It will be a true treasure and asset for this community that will support the Zoo’s mission to connect all people to each other and to the natural world to promote understanding, appreciation, and conservation. 

We invite you to help make this project a reality. Your donation will help bring to life the vision of adding a large-scale aquarium at the Kansas City Zoo.

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