The Renovation of the Toledo Zoo Aquarium

01 Jun, 2015

Toledo Zoo Aquarium, circa 1938

The aquarium building at the Toledo Zoo opened in 1939. Originally housing only freshwater fish, this historic W.P.A. (Works Progress Administration) building gradually had marine exhibits added, starting in the 1970’s. Through the 1990’s to 2012, the number of animals housed in the building more than tripled, with an even greater emphasis on marine species.

During this time, salt from the marine tanks caused increasing damage to portions of the concrete infrastructure. Additionally, the life support systems for many of the exhibits were in need of an upgrade. Public aquarium design had changed greatly in the 70 years since the Aquarium opened; exhibits are larger and more closely replicate natural habitats. For these reasons, six years ago, a plan for a new, more interactive aquarium was developed.

Aquarium_Exterior_by_Jay_Hemdal

Toledo Zoo Aquarium, present day. Image by Jay Hemdal

Opened on March 27, 2015, the new aquarium offers almost four times the exhibit water volume of the old aquarium, with nearly twice as much room for visitors. The new exhibits are designed to be more engaging and interactive for our visitors: there are two touch tanks, a color-changing moon jelly display, and expansive viewing windows looking in on many new species, including sea nettles, bonnethead sharks, and a rescued green sea turtle.

Rays_preschoolers_by_Kandace_York

Students from the Toledo Zoo preschool class marvel at an eagle ray. Image by Kandace York.

Our visitors seem to really appreciate the new Aquarium exhibits; many have returned multiple times and our attendance is far ahead of predictions. New animals continue to be released from quarantine and moved into the exhibits every month.

What are my favorite exhibits in the new Aquarium? Find out in this infographic from the Toeldo Blade.

It is an exciting time for the Toledo Zoo staff, and we hope to see you there this summer!

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About the author

Jay Hemdal
Jay Hemdal

Jay Hemdal has worked at public aquariums for over 30 years. He is currently curator of fishes and invertebrates for a large U.S. zoo / aquarium and is actively involved in the AZA (Association of Zoos and Aquariums). He has authored over 200 magazine articles and seven books since he graduated college in 1981.

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