Sea life is beginning to arrive, and water is filling up the tanks inside the Kansas City Zoo’s aquarium, the single largest capital project in its history.
Slated to open during Labor Day weekend, the zoo’s 600,000-gallon, $75 million aquarium will give visitors an up-close look at 34 exhibits with fish, corals, turtles, plants and more. It features six major habitats of warm and cold-water environments.
To fund the project, the zoo used $45 million from the zoo district sales tax, which voters approved in 2011. Private donations covered the balance.
Kansas City-based JE Dunn Construction is the general contractor and has completed a handful of other projects for the zoo. JE Dunn has done other projects with water elements, but this one was different, Project Manager Robert Lee said.
“This is actually one of our first true aquarium projects,” Lee said. “While we’ve done projects that have some of the same components, this was just on a much greater scale.”
Life support for the sea life was essential, and JE Dunn worked with subcontractors such as MMC Contractors Inc. to help design the mechanical systems.
It’s not as simple as pouring water into a tank and putting in fish, MMC Project Manager Jeremy Millard said. There are more than 5 miles of overhead life support piping alone.
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