Owen Coastal Shores is the name of Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium newest exhibit for sea lions. It is set to open spring 2020 and is the next phase of the zoo's master plan.
The sea lions will be in a Pacific Northwest coast inspired area with brown pelicans. Design development for the new sea lion habitat is underway with construction slated to begin in late fall. The approximately one-acre site will be constructed near Alaskan Adventure, at the site of the former Durham Bear Canyon and Century Link Concessions.
These amenities will eventually be replaced by the new plaza scheduled to open spring of 2019. The $22.5 million project will include elements such as natural boundaries, a 40-foot-long underwater viewing window, heated rocks and underwater kelp forest. State-of-the-art holding facilities will be complete with a diet prep area, holding pools and dry resting areas.
The approximately 275 thousand gallon filtered, recirculating salt water system will be seasonally heated or chilled to keep the sea lions comfortable throughout the entire year. Wave chambers will create natural waves in the pool, which ranges in depth from four to sixteen feet.
The area will also include a pupping beach allowing females to give birth on land and gradually introduce their pups to the water as they would in their natural habitats. Features such as extensive landscaping, a sandy beach area for kids, a waterfall and a descent into a flooded cavern with underwater viewing will create the immersive Pacific Northwest coast area for Zoo visitors.
“The new sea lions area will be developed with innovative facilities and features that, as always, focus on creating the best environment possible for the animals, such as shaded areas, water currents, a natural beach area and a sophisticated salt water filtration system,” says zoo director Dennis Pate. Owen Coastal Shores will offer visitors unique viewing opportunities including a nose-to-nose experience, a hidden crevice area with underwater perspectives for kids and a demonstration beach with a sound system and shaded stepped seating that will allow for animal training observation.