Toledo's Aquarium is Reborn at 75

The Toledo Zoo is putting up the last coats of paint, taking down the scaffolding, and prepping the exhibits. The Aquarium is reopening on March 27th and that means plenty of parties and events to celebrate the 3000+ animals that return to the public eye.

It's not fair to say that many returning because many of the exhibits are entirely new. While the building itself was built by the Works Progress Administration in 1939, many of the exhibits inside are new and redesigned. The original aquarium had many small tanks with small rectangular viewing windows-- the largest was only 7,800 gallons. Altogether, they added up to 46,000 gallons. But thanks to a clever redesign of the back rooms with modern pumps and filters, they were able to add a 90,000 reef tank and enlarge a number of the smaller tanks so that there are now 178,000 gallons of exhibits in the same building.

“In the old aquarium, your peripheral vision was of brown brick around each tank like you were looking into a picture frame,” Mr. Hemdal told the Toledo Blade. “Now, we have long viewing windows so it’s fish as far as you can see.”

The new exhibits highlght exotic locations like the flooded  forests of the Amazon where piranhas dart between trunks and local waterways like Lake Erie where ancient sturgeons float among schools of minnows. The 27,000 gallon tank devoted to the Gulf of Mexico will have sharks, rays and a sea turtle who will also serve as an ambassador for a conservation education program. 

The new exhibits are also designed to be more ecologically friendly. Careful redesign of the lighting should save between 11 and 70% of the electricity costs. The floors and the tanks were built largely from recycled materials like fly ash from the local coal power plants. The entire Zoo complex draws power from a windmill and a 2.1 megawatt solar panel installed next to the parking lot, supplying about 30% of the entire Zoo's needs. 

The renovations cost aproximately $25.5 and 80% was paid by a capital levee on Lucas County residents. The remaining 20% was raised from donations. The aquarium is part of the Toledo Zoo and one admission ticket purchases access to the animals and the fish.