The Kansas City Zoo Welcomes the Sobela Ocean Aquarium

This post is sponsored by the Kansas City Zoo and Aquarium.

Eight thousands animals within 34 different habitats are on display at the Sobela Ocean Aquarium, the newest jewel of the Kansas City Zoo. Local families can now revel in the beauty of oceanic waters, despite living in a landlocked state! The modern building houses six different zones ticket holders can browse, showcasing 200 individual species living within 650,000 gallons of sea water! Talk about impressive. 

Showcasing a love for the creatures while educating visitors on the importance of conservation is the obvious takeaway for anyone visiting. Admiring the animals as they explore their new surroundings can only inspire onlookers to feel more connected to our precious oceans and motivated to preserve its wonder. The tour starts with an introduction to Tortellini, an injured sea turtle who needs weights to properly swim and float. She’s a fan favorite as she swims along the edge of a massive tank, knowingly delighting guests. Tortellini, along with other warm water lovers circle around at the eye level of children.

From there, kids can explore touch tanks full of sea stars. As the waters begin to get cooler, the animals become more plentiful. A dark room lit by the glow of captivating jelly fish, lookouts full of sea horses and a swarming school of fish in the ceiling showcase the beauty of mangrove forests, tropical lagoons and coral reefs. The exhibit moves from warm to cooler waters, educating patrons on the different species, their homes and the efforts needed to preserve both. 

Just past the spiraling school of fish, a two-story tank is a picturesque stop showcasing sharks and brilliant fish. As the cooler waters emerge so do the likes of lobsters, eels and crabs who love kelp forests and cold rocky shores. The final exhibit crescendos with animated sea otters ready to delight humans, along with a touch pool of brilliant urchins. 

The three-year construction project taken on to deliver such a massive resource was most definitely worth the effort and tax payer funding. It is yet another reason our zoo and city continue to deliver family friendly attractions, worthy of visiting time and time again.

Parent Tips for an Aquarium Visit

  • Entrance is free with the purchase of a daily admission or Friends of the Zoo Pass, but a timed reservation must be made in advance. 
  • In close proximity to the entrance, the aquarium is only a short stroll from the Penguin Plaza.
  • The tram and train stop is close by, making for a quick jaunt to Africa or Australia afterward. 
  • Strollers are welcome throughout the aquarium. Peak visiting hours might prove for tight spacing, an aspect to consider when visiting.
  • Ramps, accessible viewing areas, bathrooms and entrances make it easy for anyone with limited mobility to visit. 
  • The beautiful, all-gender bathrooms feature a universal changing station, family area and baby changing stations all within an impeccably clean space. 
  • For the time being, 150 people every 15 minutes will be permitted entry but guests are welcome to stay as long as they please. 
  • An outside terrace hosts shaded tables with umbrellas to enjoy a snack stop or lunch. 
  • The facility itself does not offer any food options with the exception of candy and small snacks from the gift shop. 
  • Water bottle filling stations can be found within the building.
  • A gift shop offers similar options to the one located at the main entrance and exit, with theme for toys and wearables centering around aquatics. 
  • If frequent trips are in your future, use a daily admission pass toward the purchase of a Friends of the Zoo pass. The savings and convenience are worth the investment for those who visit often.

There’s no better time to “Seas the Day” and visit the new Sobela Ocean Aquarium. Your family will not be disappointed! 

Kristin Ruthstrom
Kristin is a Lee’s Summit suburb transplant, after living in the Brookside and Plaza areas for over eight years. Raising three young boys with her husband, Jake, has helped her to embrace the messy, wild side of life where love is expressed in bear hugs and body slams. Professionally, she can be found teaching classes as an adjunct professor in the areas of Business, Marketing and PR. She is able to provide her students with applicable, real-life knowledge as she draws from several years working in the corporate sector. “Free time” (ha!, what's that again?) is spent on an occasional date night to favorite local restaurants, reading blogs on everything from home design to politics, riding her sweet beach cruiser bike and thinking of ways to convince her husband to do yet another home improvement project.