PORT CANAVERAL, Fla – After years of planning, the Brevard Zoo received approval Wednesday to build an aquarium at Port Canaveral.
Executive Director Keith Winsten called the 14-acre port-owned property a ‘dream site’ when addressing port commissioners.
Where the Beachline merges with A1A, new renderings showed a 14-acre campus including pavilions, docks and a restaurant that Winsten said could attract more guests than even the zoo, itself.
‘’Aquariums always outdraw zoos. There’s much fewer of them,’’ Winsten noted.
He said it would be the only major aquarium on the coast between South Carolina and Miami.
Winsten said the outdoor design was inspired by the Monterey Bay, California aquarium. And he said the attraction is as much about the environment as tourism. The zoo said a dollar from every ticket will go toward improving the water quality of the Indian River Lagoon.
‘’The aquarium will help teach over half a million people a year how to live lightly on the lagoon, inspire people from other places how to go back to their local bodies of water and make a difference there,’’ Winsten said.
The zoo estimated building the aquarium will cost $85 million. It said $31 million is committed already with more than $50 million still to be raised from local and state money and private donations.
The zoo hopes to begin breaking ground in the next three years, meaning the earliest the aquarium could open might be in 2026 or 2027. Winsten said it all depends on how fast the zoo can raise the money.