Not so creepy after all? Haunted Aquarium highlights misunderstood crittersOct 01, 2018 01:37PM ● By Jana Klopsch
“What’s this?” A penguin checks out an underwater skeleton decoration as part of the Haunted Aquarium. (Photo courtesy Loveland Living Planet Aquarium)
By Katherine Weinstein | [email protected]
Cue the spooky music: the “Haunted Aquarium” returns! During October, Loveland Living Planet Aquarium will be transformed once again for Halloween with ghosts, skeletons and spiders adorning the halls. Themed family-friendly activities are planned throughout the month. There will be a special focus on showing visitors that many animals often viewed as creepy or frightening aren’t so bad once you get to know them.
Four years ago, the aquarium celebrated Halloween with a Haunted Rainforest event. Since then the eerie décor has spread throughout all the exhibit halls and more Halloween-themed activities have been added. “Every year it gets bigger and better,” said Caroline Ralston, director of marketing and public relations.
This year, each exhibit area will be decorated in a different theme, designed to be spooky but fun for the whole family. The Journey to South America hall will feature skeletons and giant spiders — but visitors needn’t worry that anything will jump out at them.
No matter the season, Loveland Living Planet Aquarium is dedicated to its educational mission, and all of the Halloween activities are geared toward teaching visitors about the animals and ecosystems that make up our planet. All month long, kids will be invited to participate in a fact-finding scavenger hunt. They will learn about different animals and habitats around the aquarium and get to choose a small prize at the end of the hunt. Scavenger hunt participants will also be entered in a drawing to win a larger prize.
Visitors to the Haunted Aquarium will also have a chance to get up close and personal with various creepy, crawly species through special animal meet-and-greet events. These are opportunities for people to overcome their fears about certain animals such as snakes, lizards and tarantulas and learn about the roles they play in the living planet.
“When a guest has an opportunity to get up close to an animal, they gain a new level of respect,” said Ralston. “A lot of guests walk away having a new level of understanding of an animal they were previously fearful of.”
Public Program Manager Brent Beardsley says his favorite part of his job is “when someone overcomes a fear or worry” about an animal. He related an anecdote about a woman who was deeply afraid of snakes but came to a meet-and-greet with her children. Beardsley told the family some fun facts about snakes and then held the animal with its head facing away from the woman. As soon as she touched the snake’s tail, said Beardsley, “it was almost as if a switch flipped in her mind.”
Beardsley’s favorite animals to show visitors are tarantulas and gopher snakes. In nature, tarantulas are not aggressive to humans and will try to scare people off before they bite. Gopher snakes are common in Utah and easygoing around humans. Two to three animal meet-and-greets are planned for each day at the aquarium, but more may be added to the schedule as staff time permits.
Besides the animal meet-and-greets, other interactive programs will take place throughout the month at the Haunted Aquarium, including take-home craft projects. Making a tarantula out of pipe cleaners is a popular craft.
Trick-or-treating is of course a huge part of Halloween. Loveland Living Planet Aquarium will once again partner with local businesses for trick-or-treat events. The aquarium’s corporate partners will set up elaborately decorated tables and hand out treats to the kids. Costumes are most definitely encouraged. Visit HYPERLINK "http://thelivingplanet.com/hauntedaquarium" thelivingplanet.com/hauntedaquarium for trick or treat dates and times.
Loveland Living Planet Aquarium will be transformed into the Haunted Aquarium for October. It is located at 12033 Lone Peak Parkway in Draper. For more information, call 801-355-3474.