Ten years after leading the charge to provide funding and support for a world-class aquarium in Salt Lake City, entrepreneur and philanthropist Arthur E. Benjamin is beaming with pride over how the facility has evolved.
The Loveland Living Planet Aquarium is described as “one of Utah’s most unique and popular attractions” and “a must-see,” but wouldn’t have been possible without a group of donors, which Benjamin led in part as a loving tribute to his late wife Gail, who passed away from breast cancer.
In Arthur’s own words:
My wife had an experience long ago with her son at NY’s Brooklyn Aquarium where the penguins followed them most of the day because they were dressed in black and white. She called it “their best day ever” and wanted every parent in Utah to have their own best day ever with their own kids. We provided a grant and a loan to open The Aquarium at The Gateway, an open-air downtown shopping mall in Salt Lake City, to foster her dream.
The Gail Benjamin Living Aquarium Experience opened in 2004. It was a 10,000 square foot aquarium with everything a big one would have in it. From sharks to an octopus, a petting pond and a salmon stream, 350,000 parents and kids (in a state with only 10x that population) experienced the chance to have their own best day ever in the first year of operation.
During this period, I chaired the board of the aquarium and helped shepherd its growth. Two years later we moved it to 45,000 square feet in Sandy, a suburb of Salt Lake and more and more adults and their kids came. The demand was overwhelming and 10 years later, this year, the Living Planet Aquarium became the Loveland Living Planet Aquarium, (also America’s ninth largest) when it opened in 135,000 square feet in Draper, Utah.
For additional information on visiting the aquarium, visit http://www.