PORT CANAVERAL, Fla. (WOFL FOX 35) - On hot summer days when school is out, one of the most popular exhibits at the Brevard Zoo is this water-play area, where wet fun intersects with an educational aquarium. In fact, Brevard Zoo Executive Director Keith Winsten says the exhibit has been so successful, he has included many of the same elements in a much larger proposal: A 50,000 square foot aquarium attraction constructed in Port Canaveral's tourist oriented Cove area.
"We have an opportunity to build an attraction that's uniquely Brevard," said Winsten.
The vision the Zoo has would call for stocking the attraction with marine life pulled from local waters; including the ocean, the Indian River Lagoon, and the St. John's river.
"This is like the point of diversity here" adds Winsten. "We have the fish in the temperate area north of here, sub tropical marine life south of here."
Besides the variety of marine life, there would also be a unique feature symbolizing the area's connection to space: a partially submerged Orion space capsule. In this artist's rendering, the only one the Zoo is releasing, you can see the glass aquarium would be built over top of a very large viewing area: Estimated cost: between $30 and $50 million dollars.
"We need to find a way to raise those funds" says Winsten. "And we see a role for public funds coming at different levels, as well as the aquarium taking on some debt."
At the current proposed size of 50,000 square feet, the Zoo's director believes the aquarium attraction would turn a profit, much of which he says would be funnelled back into the Zoo's conservation efforts. In the next six months, the Port and the Zoo will select a location, and map out other details, before bringing the proposal before Port commissioners.