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A new $22.5 million sea lion exhibit is coming to the Henry Doorly Zoo
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A new $22.5 million sea lion exhibit is coming to the Henry Doorly Zoo

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Sea lions are getting a shiny new exhibit.

The Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquarium announced plans Thursday for its new Owen Coastal Shores sea lion exhibit, which will open in spring 2020 at the former site of Durham Bear Canyon.

The $22.5 million project will include a 275,000-gallon saltwater pool with a 40-foot-long underwater viewing window and wave chambers to create natural waves throughout the pool. The one-acre exhibit also will have a pupping beach for females to raise their young.

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Outside the exhibit, kids can play in a sandy beach area, a waterfall and a flooded cavern with a special area to view sea lions swimming underwater.

“This habitat will mirror African Grasslands and Asian Highlands in that we will be using natural elements to create an immersive environment for both animals and zoo visitors,” zoo director Dennis Pate said in a statement.

Sea lions will remain in their current exhibit, Owen Sea Lion Pavilion, which was formerly a public pool, until the new pool has been built. Bears have already vacated the former Bear Canyon.

Construction is expected to begin late this fall.

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