Oklahoma Aquarium - Jenks, OK
The Oklahoma Aquarium is a 72,000-square-foot (6,700 m2) public aquarium built in 2002 and opened on May 28, 2003, in Jenks, a southern suburb of Tulsa. It is the largest aquarium attraction in the four-state area.
The Oklahoma Aquarium is home to the world's largest exhibit of bull sharks which you can explore in the unique, walk-through tunnel. You can also see their loggerhead sea turtles, zebra sharks, and hump head wrasse. As of 2020, the aquarium has more than 500 species and 10,000 animals.
The original concept of idea was brought to the forefront by Tulsa and abandoned. The City of Jenks' former Mayor Mike Tinker, former City Manager Randy Ewing, P.R. Ramey, and several other Tulsa philanthropists pitched their money alongside tax dollars to fund the project.
The facility, designed by the architecture firm SPARKS and constructed by Ross Group, features eight exhibits including sites that focus on invertebrates, Oklahoma species, Ozark habitats, a coral reef, and sharks.
The Oklahoma Aquarium receives part of the funding of the one-cent county sales tax approved in 2005 by voters under Vision 2025. The state legislature has authorized a specialty Oklahoma Aquarium license plate option with some of the fees going to support the facility.
Did you know that more than 70% of the Earth's surface is covered by water? That means our oceans, rivers, lakes, and streams are critically important to the overall health of our planet. Our mission is "to educate and inspire conservation of our aquatic world through interactive discovery."
Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
Upholding the mission of the Oklahoma Aquarium is not possible without a solid foundation of diversity, equity, and inclusion. Education is at the core of our mission, and the Oklahoma Aquarium Foundation provides a scholarship fund for underrepresented students and schools with financial limitations. The aquarium team is committed to educating, protecting, and upholding biodiversity and sustainability; this includes human diversity. We are one planet full of diverse life, and the inclusion of all people is crucial to caring for the planet and its people. We work with several area partners to assure that all students within the community have the opportunity to visit the Oklahoma Aquarium and share in our mission.
The Oklahoma Aquarium opened its doors to the public on May 28, 2003, although the facility was a dream and passion for founders Dr. P.R. Ramey and Doug Kemper in 1984. The Oklahoma Aquarium Foundation settled on a plot of land on the west bank of the Arkansas River in Jenks—now home to the Oklahoma Aquarium—thanks to the fundraising efforts led by Dr. Ramey and Trustee Harvie Roe, and the vision of Jenks city leaders Mayor Mike Tinker, Vice Mayor Vic Vreeland, and City Manager Randy Ewing. In June of 2000, Chief Operating Officer Kenny Alexopoulos and his team from Galveston, Texas, relocated to Jenks to design and construct the Oklahoma Aquarium’s exhibits and to build and maintain its world-renowned bull shark collection. Today, the biology team is recognized for its bull shark research and groundbreaking coral research.