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SeaQuest Aquarium set to open in Southwest Plaza

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By Deborah Swearingen

Littleton may be landlocked, but lovers of tropical fish, turtles and stingrays are in for a treat when SeaQuest Aquarium opens its newest location in Southwest Plaza mall.

The aquarium, set to open at the end of May, will feature approximately 1,200 animals of different species. In addition to fish, visitors can expect to see stringrays, sharks, turtles, snakes, lizards, birds and more. SeaQuest staff hope its aquariums will provide an opportunity for up-close connection with reptiles, birds and sea life. With the price of admission, people are allowed to touch and interact with the animals. Furthermore, SeaQuest offers a snorkeling experience, hosts private events and partners with community groups and nonprofits.

All SeaQuest locations are in malls, a choice seen as mutually beneficial by both the aquarium and the mall.

“We have a great partnership with malls. Malls are already established and have a customer base of the same type of people that would want to come and visit the aquarium,” said Elsa MacDonald, national marketing director.

Southwest Plaza manager Greg Sims agreed, saying the changing retail landscape has pushed malls to look into unique ways to attract customers and turn the mall into a community hub of sorts.

“We’re trying to make the malls more appealing to a broader section of the population,” he said. “ … We thought just adding this aquarium is another little twist along that avenue if you will to encourage people to come to the mall for more than shopping. “

Although many have concerns about the restricting nature of aquariums and zoos, MacDonald said SeaQuest provides “great animal- or ecosystem-specific enclosures.”

“We do not go and pull them from the wild,” she said. “What we’re hoping to do is to be able to provide an experience where children can not only appreciate where these animals come from, but also understand the urgency of conservation efforts needed.

“(SeaQuest is) not different than the Denver Aquarium or a local zoo. One thing that we do differently is that we allow a safe and fun interaction to build that great appreciation and love for animals and nature.”

SeaQuest offers single-day and annual passports and is already booking birthday parties and snorkeling experiences for the summer, and the aquarium is currently offering annual passes, birthday parties and snorkeling at 50 percent off. The aquarium also is looking to partner with local nonprofit organizations. To learn more, visit littleton.visitseaquest.com or e-mail littletonadmin@seaquestaquariums.com.

Editor's note: The original version of this story incorrectly named the Southwest Plaza manager as Gary instead of Greg. 

Contact reporter Deborah Swearingen at dswearingen@evergreenco.com or 303-350-1042. Follow her on Twitter @djswearingen.