This is one of my very first brand new locations I’ve included in this review series, and sadly I just don’t think they were ready. The opening of SeaQuest, an interactive aquarium in Littleton, was heavily advertised and had quite the buzz going before opening. I was excited to go but quickly began to have doubts. First, the opening was postponed-twice, which left the annual pass holders with none of the early ‘members only’ entry they were promised. Second, I began to hear about how SeaQuest, as a company, may not treat their animals humanly, I was on the lookout for any animal mistreatment on my visit. Lastly, the contact manager I was communicating with was replaced twice in the month or two I was contacting them. In my retail experience the general manager set the tone for the entire store-I think the same goes for this place, and you can tell there’s confusion and irregularities in the staff. Keep reading to hear the good and the bad about SeaQuest Littleton to decide if you should visit.
Let’s start with some positives about this place since the negatives aren’t hard to see. SeaQuest is packed FULL of photo ops-I think that’s a big reason it looks so amazing on social media. They’ve got animal statues, canoes, patterned walls, almost every room is perfectly instagramable-if you can look past the crowds. The aesthetic in this place is spot on and it was almost distracting enough for me not to notice a lot of the empty tanks. The staff is friendly and interactive with guests. However, the handlers didn’t seem to have much knowledge on the animals beyond basic google. The staff I met was mostly young teens off school for the summer or college students, neither of which have any marine expertise. There also needs to be a lot more staff for the number of visitors they’re seeing. I saw four staff members in the actual aquarium, three of which were inside animal encounters. So if you have a question, you’ll have to wait in a 20min line for an encounter to ask it. One thing I can guarantee from this place is you will walk away with great pictures!
There’s one huge part of SeaQuest that is simultaneously the thing that bring people in, and the thing that concerns people; and that’s the animal interaction. Even in the name they advertise they are an interactive aquarium, and they are. I’ve never been able to interact with reptiles and sea creatures like I did at this location. While this sounds great, and was fun, it did bring up concerns about animal handling for me. The animal encounters that were active during our visit were feeding and petting iguanas, bird feeding, large tortoise feeding and petting, and feeding and petting of sharks and stingrays-in both tanks. The lines for these encounters were instantly long, and after already waiting 15min in a line just to get in-I wasn’t thrilled to find more lines inside. We walked the aquarium before circling back to do encounters.
We fed the iguanas and sharks, and watched the tortoise feedings. While it was a fun experience for my son and I, it did make me question if the animals safety is being thought of. Within the iguana and turtle feedings I noticed there was little to no instruction. The iguana encounter was one young woman, with at least 10 iguanas, trying to manage 10-15 people in the encounter at once. The shark and stingray feeding was even worse with one woman selling food and attempting to monitor two feeding tanks and prolly 100 people. I was not allowed in the back so I do not know what sterile tanks they may have but what I saw with the public tanks did not seem safe for the fish. In the shark and stingray tanks you are encouraged to put your entire arm in the tank-not required to wash up before either. These tanks are HIGH traffic and there’s got to be easily 500 hands/arms in those tanks a day. I’m no marine scientist but I do know aquatic ecosystems can be delicate. Beyond just the safety of the animals the business of the tanks was hard to navigate-and we went on a Tuesday morning.
While overall the aesthetics were finished there were a lot of empty tanks, or very large tanks with a handful of tiny fish in them. It was clear to me they needed more time before they opened. As we were walking out there was a woman diving in one of the front tanks, and when I asked an employee what she was doing he told me she was diving for construction debris. This tank was filled with tropical fish and had construction debris falling into it. Seems like they tried to rush opening and are now presenting something unfinished. Overall this place did not live up to the hype. It’s slightly smaller than Downtown Aquarium but much cheaper which is a positive. However I feel the space was misused with the gift shop taking up at least 1/2 the space. I’d likely visit again in a few months once they’d had some time to further finish but I wouldn’t rush to take your kids to this new destination.
Address: 8501 W Bowles Ave, Littleton, Co, 80123 (INSIDE Southwest Plaza Mall)
Hours: Monday-Saturday 10am-9pm, Sunday’s 11am-6pm.