KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Animal lovers in the Kansas City metro are prepared to go under the sea.

The Sobela Ocean Aquarium at the Kansas City Zoo opens on Friday, a long-awaited grand opening after three years of planning and construction.

Aquarium managers compare it to a 650,000 gallon swim across the globe. Eight thousand aquatic creatures await visitors with 34 exhibits that will give patrons multiple perspectives.

Some of them got a unique sneak preview on Thursday along with our FOX4 cameras.

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“You do get to take that full trip following the currents of the ocean all the way around the world,” Stu Clausen, Sobela Aquarium Aquatics Curator, said.

Clausen said few cities have an aquarium in addition to a zoo. Clausen hopes this delivers an ecology-based message about preserving our oceans.

“Our planet is 75% water. We now, at the Kansas City Zoo, will have that environment for our visitors to see and interact with,” Clausen said.

There’s no additional cost for Kansas City Zoo patrons to check out the aquarium.

Brian Dorna, the aquarium’s director of animal care, loves the way this brings the Midwest closer to the sea.

“We’re in Kansas City. There’s no oceans near us. There’s so many people who will never get to the ocean, so now they can come here,” Doran said.

The Helzberg Family of Kansas City helped sponsor this project. The word Sobela is an anagram representing the first names of all their grandchildren.

The Kansas City Zoo plans a Friday morning ribbon cutting. The public will be welcomed into the aquarium afterwards around 930 a.m.