6/20/13: Grand Opening of North American River Otter Exhibit



SAN FRANCISCO, CA - June 20, 2013–Aquarium of the Bay’s newest exhibit, Otters: Watershed Ambassadors, will debut on Friday, June 28, 2013 on San Francisco’s renowned waterfront. Featuring playful North American river otters, this new permanent exhibit will educate guests about the importance of the health and conservation of our natural resources.
 
“We are thrilled to share this amazing new exhibit with our guests,” says John Frawley, President and CEO of Aquarium of the Bay and The Bay Institute. “The protection and conservation of the watershed is crucial, and this new exhibit gives us the perfect opportunity to engage our guests and share this message with them.”
 
River otters were chosen as the ambassador species for this conservation issue because they depend on healthy watersheds to survive. River otters live throughout California, and they are an important indicator for the health of the waterways that feed into San Francisco Bay. By providing the opportunity for Aquarium of the Bay’s guests—including the 16,000 school children that visit for free each year—to connect with river otters, Aquarium of the Bay is creating a connection between its visitors, the river otters and the a healthy watershed.
 
Designed in part by award-winning San Francisco architectural firm EHDD, the new exhibit showcases the river otters in a creative water and land habitat, surrounded by sweeping views of the San Francisco Bay. The modern exhibit includes freshwater pools of varying depths stocked with minnows and crayfish, plenty of dry land, and dig pits for the otters to enjoy. Live plants can be found throughout the exhibit as well as a six-foot tall living wall—a unique element in this $1.3 million expansion.
 
The new exhibit features three North American river otters—Shasta, Tubbs and Wildcat—each named after local watershed destinations. All three river otters receive state-of-the-art animal care by the Aquarium’s excellent staff and are fed a variety of restaurant quality fish, shellfish, vegetables and specially formulated vitamins. The animal care staff also leads an extensive program of behavioral enrichment, including toys to play with, logs and branches to climb and hammocks to rest in.
 
Otters: Watershed Ambassadors is the first part in a multi-million dollar, two-phase expansion plan for Aquarium of the Bay. Phase two will include new state-of-the-art classrooms, or “Watershed Discovery Labs,” that will allow Aquarium of the Bay to expand and enhance its educational programs. Phase two will also feature a rotating exhibit space housing exhibits that will address critical conservation issues such as Marine Protected Areas (MPAs), marine debris and sustainable seafood. Phase two is expected to take effect in summer 2014.
 
About Aquarium of the Bay:
Aquarium of the Bay is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit nature center affiliated with The Bay Institute, with a combined mission to protect, restore and inspire the conservation of San Francisco Bay and its watershed-from the Sierra to the sea. It is accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), and certified as a Green Business by the city of San Francisco. Located next to the beautiful San Francisco Bay and on the world famous PIER 39, Aquarium of the Bay is San Francisco’s only waterfront aquarium. Boasting two magnificent crystal clear tunnels holding 700,000 gallons of carefully maintained Bay water between them, Aquarium of the Bay is home to approximately 20,000 marine animals found in the San Francisco Bay and along the California coast. Additional information about Aquarium of the Bay is available at aquariumofthebay.org.
 
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Media Contact: Mallory Johnson, Public Relations Coordinator, mallory@bay.org, 415.623.5340