Just twenty years ago Brook and Charlie, two lovable sea otters, were babies. “They were mischievous and kept us on our toes. Today they are the oldest known living sea otters at any zoo or aquarium,” said Dr. Sandy Trautwein, vice president of animal husbandry at the Aquarium of the Pacific. Charlie, who is a few months older than Brook, will be listed as the oldest known living sea otter in a zoo or aquarium in an upcoming special edition of Guinness Book of World Records: Wild Things.
Brook and Charlie are among the charter animals the Aquarium of the Pacific is highlighting during its 20th anniversary celebration, along with Theo and Lout he sea turtles, Fern the zebra shark, Shelby and Ellie the harbor seals, Monty the tufted puffin, and several other animals. The celebration takes place from May 25, 2018 to April 30, 2019, and also includes new animals, programs, an art exhibit, films, and summer contests with prizes.
The Aquarium made a splash when it first opened its doors on June 20, 1998. Since then it has welcomed nearly 29 million visitors and served more than 600,000 students and community members offsite with its Aquarium on Wheels outreach vehicle.
It has also evolved to become more than just a place to see animals. The Aquarium hosts environmental forums with leading experts on pressing issues and publishes reports that are released to policymakers and the public. It also offers lectures and courses and performing and visual arts programs and works with local communities on climate resilience.
“The Aquarium’s exhibits and programs help visitors explore our relationship with our planet and how it is changing, and what it will take to make that relationship more sustainable in the future. We hope to inspire people to pursue actions that will create a sustainable future for both nature and people,” said Dr. Jerry Schubel, Aquarium of the Pacific president and CEO.
Danielle Pulsipher reflects on her experiences as a child visiting the Aquarium over twenty years ago. “I grew up going to the Aquarium. It inspired me to learn more about our oceans. As a result of the Aquarium’s impact on my life, I have now dedicated my life to protecting and learning about our oceans,” said Pulsipher, now an Aquarium volunteer.
Like Pulsipher, Abby Henderson also grew up with the Aquarium. Henderson was born in the same year as the Aquarium’s public opening, and her parents purchased memberships in December 1997. Today, she is studying marine biology and hopes to pursue a career in conservation work. She traces these aspirations to her childhood days spent at the Aquarium. In addition to stories like these, the Aquarium has also received stories from people who were engaged or married at the Aquarium or who treasure special memories of Aquarium visits with a relative or friend.
As part of the celebration, the Aquarium will offer daily prize opportunities. Aquarium visitors can look for the Aquarium’s 20th anniversary platinum Bob the Diver statue hidden inside the exhibits this summer to win daily prizes. Visitors can also take photos at designated selfie stations and post them on social media with the hashtag #AOPandme to be entered to win a VIP experience and other prizes. The Aquarium will also announce other scavenger hunts and community challenges throughout the celebration. During their visits, guests can learn about the history of the Aquarium and meet some new animals at the new Tentacles and Ink exhibit in the Tropical Pacific Gallery.
A short film highlighting the Aquarium’s conservation work will play daily in the Great Hall, and art exhibits celebrating the Aquarium’s anniversary will be displayed on the second floor. The first art exhibit will feature five original pieces by Brian Kesinger, an Aquarium member and artist for Marvel Comics. Kesinger’s art exhibit will be up through September 2, 2018, followed by a commemorative quilt exhibit on September 15 and a display of 20th anniversary art contest winning pieces starting December 1. The art contest, presented by Jet Blue, will be accepting entries throughout the summer with the top 20 participants winning round-trip flights on JetBlue.
The Aquarium’s costumed characters will also be celebrating with new photo-ready party clothes and accessories, and the Aquarium will be unveiling a brand new giant Pacific octopus mascot named Gigi. Guests can post their photos with the hashtag #aop20 to wish the Aquarium a happy anniversary and share their message with friends. The Aquarium will also invite its members to exclusive anniversary parties. You can follow the Aquarium on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to get word of more surprise happenings throughout the summer.
The nonprofit Aquarium of the Pacific is a community gathering place where diverse cultures and the arts are celebrated and where important challenges facing our planet are explored by scientists, policymakers, and stakeholders in search of sustainable solutions. The Aquarium is dedicated to conserving and building nature and nature’s services by building the interactions between and among people. Home to over 11,000 animals, Aquarium exhibits include FROGS: Dazzling and Disappearing. Beyond its animal exhibits, the Aquarium offers education programs for people of all ages. For more information, you can visit aquariumofthepacific.org or call 562-590-3100. A world of discovery awaits.
This article was released by the Aquarium of the Pacific.