Scuba Santa’s Water Wonderland Celebrates 16 Years at Newport Aquarium

NEWPORT, Ky. — Just as it’s getting cold and icy outside, experience a taste of the tropics inside Newport Aquarium, as Scuba Santa returns for his 16th year. Newport Aquarium invites the public to experience the Cincinnati holiday tradition under the sea Nov. 23 – Dec. 31 at Scuba Santa’s Water Wonderland.NPAQ_ScubaSanta_HR_2015_Steve_Ziegelmeyer-8386-REVISED

Imagine, walking up to the 385,000 gallon Surrounded by Sharks tank, watching sharks swimming all around, and being greeted by Scuba Santa who knows your child’s name. Scuba Santa’s friendly elves also welcome guests to Shark Ray Bay Theater throughout the holiday season. Whether it’s singing along to the “12 Days of Christmas,” dancing playfully in the theater amid colorful holiday lights, or popping bubbles that fall from the ceiling, families are sure to make lasting memories.

“Every year Newport Aquarium transforms into a truly wondrous setting where families can discover the wonder of an undersea holiday celebration,” said Eric Rose, executive director of Newport Aquarium. “It’s the only underwater holiday tradition in Greater Cincinnati, and who wouldn’t want to celebrate the holidays in the tropics? You can at Newport Aquarium!”

The Water Wonderland journey will also take guests through a number of illuminated and holiday-clad galleries, culminating in a truly wondrous experience where families connect and interact with the magic of an undersea holiday celebration:

  • Shark Ray Bay Theater – Guests will be surrounded by lights, bubbles and holiday music as they join Scuba Santa’s elves in song and discover how some of Newport Aquarium’s most iconic animals celebrate holidays under the sea. Children will have the unique opportunity to meet Scuba Santa® one-on-one, as he dives inside the 385,000-gallon Surrounded by Sharks tank, and tell him their holiday wishes.
  • Seahorses: Unbridled Fun – Hundreds of twinkling sea-creature lights will hang from the ceiling of the Seahorses: Unbridled Fun exhibit over some of nature’s most amazing creatures, including pipefish and several different species of seahorses.
  • Stingray Hideaway – Visit the tropical paradise getaway where Scuba Santa goes to relax after the busy holiday season. His elves are already there decorating with festive tropical decor ready to welcome guests to Stingray Hideaway. Plus, guests can interact with and touch two dozen stingrays in the 17,000-gallon stingray touchpool, while enjoying the tropical holiday oasis.
  • Gator Alley – Honky-tonk holiday lighting, music and decorations welcome guests at Gator Alley, the home of Snowball and Snowflake, two of less than 100 rare white alligators in the world.
  • Kroger Penguin Palooza – Children can write their holiday wish on a magic bubble and mail it at Scuba Santa’s Post Office inside Kroger Penguin Palooza, where five species of cold-weather penguins – a total of nearly 50 birds spread their own brand of holiday cheer.

* Scuba Santa® will not be diving on Christmas Day – he will be resting after a busy night traveling to homes all around the world.

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Buy 3, Get 1 FREE Annual Pass Sale: In time for the holidays, guests who purchase three Newport Aquarium Annual Passes will receive a fourth Annual Pass FREE. The Annual Pass Holiday Special ends on Dec. 31. Annual Passes are valid for one year from the date of purchase, so guests can use them now to experience Scuba Santa’s Water Wonderland. Passes are also valid into next year, to enjoy all the new surprises coming for Newport Aquarium’s 20th Anniversary.

For more information, visit NewportAquarium.com or call 800-406-FISH (3474).

 

Closing a Door and Opening a Window… With a Beach View!

Farewell Scott Brehob

Newport Aquarium prepares to say so long to one of the longest tenured staff members here. Aquatic Biologist, Scott Brehob has been at the aquarium since the doors opened in the summer of 1999. Scott started out in guest services, selling admission tickets and has advanced through the ranks to become a resident shark expert. Passionate about his work and conservation, now he’s taking his talent to the Gulf Coast where he will continue to be an ambassador for wildlife and wild places.

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“One major thing that I love about working here is educating people about all the amazing animals in our oceans, rivers, and lakes of the world,” Scott said in his Takeover Tuesday post. “I have had the joy of doing this in several different facets. From talking to the guests directly on the front line to caring for the animals and making amazing exhibits as an aquarist.”

Scott became an Aquatic Biologist trainee in 2003. Three short years later, he fulfilled his dream of becoming an official Aquatic Biologist (inspired by the show SeaQuest) and has been inspiring the inner biologist in us all ever since. Often mistaken (by interns) for Charlie Hunnam, it’s hard to miss his ponytail! Whether it was greeting guests on tours, feeding sharks in Shark Central, or giving personal tours behind the scenes, Scott is never shy about sharing his enthusiasm about the animals he takes care of every day.

He took that enthusiasm outside of the aquarium as well, with several reoccurring TV segments, including Wild Wednesdays on Local 12 – most recently showing Jen Dalton baby sharks, and with Nagini the red-tailed boa constrictor on Living Dayton, as well as WLWT and  Fox 19. Scott is not only an amazing biologist, he also cares deeply about educating the public about marine life and why we should care about saving it.

“Everything we strive for is that conservation message. I love these touch tanks because they (guests) can get up close and personal with animals that they would never otherwise see in Kentucky,” Scott told Lyssa High from WTVQ, when she visited Shark Central.

What Scott’s Colleagues are Saying:

“Scott is a perfect example of a dreamer. He knew he wanted to work with sharks at age 7, and never lost focus of achieving that dream. He shares that story sometimes with guests on tours, as inspiration for the kids,” said Sydney Sharer, Newport Aquarium exhibits team member, who has worked with Scott for 18 years.

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This was one of Scott’s very first TV interviews.

“What I am going to miss about Scott is his ability to be available to help with whatever was going on, no matter the hour, be it an animal transport, a tank break down or set up, and anything else that needed to be done,” said fellow biologist, Michelle Fry. “He is a wonderful co-worker and an even better friend who I will miss working with but I am so excited for his new adventure.”

“Scott is like the little brother I’ve always wanted! It’s been fun watching him grow through the years, and watching his passion grow. We have such great memories being out in the ‘Shark Squad,’ the very first shark outreach cart.” said Tina Newberry, marketing manager. Tina has worked with Scott for 14 years.

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“I have learned so much from Scott and appreciate all the struggles, holidays, diving, transport trips, presentations, feeds, training sessions, inventive MacGyver moments, and much much more. Love you, brother, and I’m proud to have worked with you.”   – Jen Hazeres, Biologist

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“They’ve taught me a lot on how a team should function, and I definitely am taking that with me,” Scott said. The team of biologists got into the Halloween spirit and welcomed guests to Jurassic Park.

“I’ll miss Scott’s consistent dependability and calm demeanor,” said Jolene Hanna, Animal Health & Quarantine Manager, and Veterinary Technician.

Husbandry

Scott, Jen, and Jolene were part of the original team of biologists that worked closely with the shark rays.

Scott, Jolene, and Jen Hazeres were the three biologists who work with our shark rays the most. “It was such a learning curve with the adults and pups. He took everything in stride and was a major part of the success we’ve had with the species,” Jolene said.

“He has held many roles and enriched many of our lives in his time here.  While I am proud and excited for him, I am also saddened.  Scott will be sorely missed,” said Chris Pierson, Newport Aquarium operations director, who has worked with Scott for 17 years. “Having worked with him for so long, and watching him grow and move up to a higher position is very rewarding. We all share in that success. It makes me proud of him.”

“It’s very rewarding for me to see Scott grow in multiple roles to the leader and professional he has become. His unique personality and captivating presence comes through, showing his love and passion for wildlife and conservation,” said Eric Rose, Newport Aquarium’s Executive Director.

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Chris Pierson and Scott Brehob circa 2005

“As long as I’ve been at Newport so has Scott. I can’t condense my 15 years of working side by side with him down to one story.  We have done countless projects together.  He’s helped me out of some tight situations, usually of my own doing but he was always there to lend a hand,” said Dan Hagley, Newport Aquarium Assistant Curator. “Over the years I’ve learned to lean on Scott for his honesty and perspective on all the complex situations animals have presented us over the years. I’ve seen him grow from “Hottie Scottie” to a mentor for interns and his peers. Scott has left a lasting impression in my life that will always be there and he has left his mark on the Aquarium that will last for years.”

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Scott will be moving to warmer weather and larger bodies of water, as his new adventure is taking him to the Gulf Coast.

Good luck Scott! We will miss you!

Jim Henson’s Splash and Bubbles Reeftown Adventure Opening at Newport Aquarium in January

NEWPORT, Ky. — Newport Aquarium announced plans today to kick off a year full of surprises as it gears up for its 20th anniversary. A new experience, Jim Henson’s Splash and Bubbles Reeftown Adventure will open in January. The new addition for kids and families will kick off a year of surprises including new exhibits, animals, events and more.

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Straight from the TV show to Newport Aquarium, Splash and Bubbles’ Reeftown Adventure will transform the space and expand the footprint of the area between Frog Bog and Stingray Hideaway. Kids can climb and play their way through Coral Cove and become a Reeftown Ranger as they learn about our One Big Ocean and the animals that call it home. The experience will also include the Kelp Forest, a completely new area to guests. Through technology, families can color their own fishy friends and bring them to life in the animated world of Splash and Bubbles.

“We’re inviting our youngest visitors to explore the undersea world of Splash and Bubbles where they can start learning about animals and conservation,” said Eric Rose, Newport Aquarium’s executive director. “And our goal is to show that exploring and learning about the ocean is so much fun!”

Highlights of the new experience include:

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Just like Splash & Bubble do on TV, guests will “Catch a current” as they enter this fun new experience on their way to explore and play in Reeftown, Coral Cove, Kelp Forest and other environments from the show.

Reeftown Adventure:
Just like Splash and Bubbles do on TV, guests will “Catch a current” as they enter this fun new experience on their way to explore and play in Reeftown, Coral Cove, Kelp Forest and other environments from the show.

 

Reeftown Ranger:
Kids can learn about the importance of ocean conservation through fun hands-on games as they earn their status as an official “Reeftown Ranger.”

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Kids can learn about the importance of ocean conservation through fun hands-on games as they earn their status as an official “Reeftown Ranger.”

Kelp Forest:
Parents and kids can color a fish that reflects their own personality. Then, through the magic of technology, they’ll bring their creations to life and watch them swim through the world of Splash, Bubbles, and other popular characters from the show.

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Parents and kids can color a fish that reflects their own personality. Then, through the magic of technology, they’ll bring their creations to life and watch them swim through the world of Splash and Bubbles among popular characters from the show.

About Splash and Bubbles:
Splash and Bubbles are the stars of the ocean-themed animated kids’ series of the same name on PBS. The show encourages children to explore the natural undersea world and features endearing and humorous characters on fun-filled adventures. Splash and Bubbles can be seen on local PBS station, CET. The TV show is co-produced by Herschend Studios and the Emmy Award winning The Jim Henson Company, creators of Sid the Science Kid and Dinosaur Train.

Annual Pass Deal:
From November 1 to December 31, Newport Aquarium is offering Annual Passes on a “Buy 3, Get 1 Free” sale. Annual Passes are valid for one year from the date of purchase, so guests can use them this year to experience Scuba Santa’s Water Wonderland. Passes are also valid into next year, to enjoy all the new surprises coming for Newport Aquarium’s 20th Anniversary. Annual Passes can be purchased at NewportAquarium.com or by calling 800-406-FISH (3474).

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To learn more about Jim Henson’s Splash and Bubbles Reeftown Adventure, and to follow more announcements for Newport Aquarium’s 20th Anniversary, visit NewportAquarium.com.

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 Newport Aquarium, named one of the top 10 U.S. aquariums in 2017 by USA Today’s 10Best.com, one of the top U.S. aquariums in 2016 by Leisure Group Travel, and has showcased thousands of animals from around the world in a million gallons of water since 1999. Named a top U.S. aquarium by US City Traveler and Destinations Travel Magazine in 2014, and also by Travel Channel in 2013, Newport Aquarium is a Herschend Family Entertainment company and an accredited member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. Newport Aquarium is open to the public 365 days a year and is located across the Ohio River from downtown Cincinnati at Newport on the Levee.

 

 

 

 

Newport Aquarium Joins National Push to Take #FirstStep to Cut Plastic Pollution

Twenty-two top aquariums across the United States – Including Newport Aquarium – have already eliminated 5 million straws in their coordinated campaign to reduce sources of plastic pollution. Now they’re upping their game by encouraging individuals, businesses and cities around the country to cut back on single-use plastic—starting with plastic straws—by Earth Day 2019.

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Take the first step by pledging to skip plastic straws. Your last straw is the #FirstStep to a plastic-free ocean. Visit: pledge.ourhands.org.

Banding together in a joint #FirstStep to plastic-free waters, the aquariums seek commitments from 500 more businesses, pledges from individuals, and policy action by municipalities, all to reduce a growing source of single-use plastic waste that harms ocean and freshwater wildlife around the world.

The campaign will kick off during #NoStrawNovember, a nationwide movement asking people who don’t need them to refuse plastic straws for 30 days.

“Cutting back on plastic straws doesn’t solve the problem, but it’s an important first step,” said Eric Rose, Newport Aquarium Executive Director. “It gets people thinking and talking about ways they can reduce their reliance on single-use plastic items—and encourages the innovation of ocean-friendly alternatives.”First Step_reef 2

The #FirstStep campaign includes:

  • Recruiting 500 new businesses to partner with aquariums across the country by committing to offer straws only on request, for a total of 1,000 businesses committed by Earth Day 2019
  • An online pledge site (ourhands.org/) where individuals can commit to make the last straw their first step to plastic-free waters
  • Initiatives by partner aquariums to inspire cities in their regions to pass straws-on-request ordinances and other local measures to reduce single-use plastic
  • An opportunity for individuals to get tips via text message on ways to cut back on single-use plastic in their daily lives, by texting SEATURTLE to 49767

Since the 2017 launch of the Aquarium Conservation Partnership (ACP), 22 partner aquariums in 17 states – located on the coasts and in the heartland – have eliminated more than 5 million straws a year, stopped using plastic shopping bags, and have committed to significantly reduce or eliminate plastic beverage bottles by 2020.  Nearly 500 businesses—including United Airlines, the Chicago White Sox, Dignity Health hospitals and Farmer Brothers Coffee—have made plastic-reduction commitments in collaboration with ACP aquariums.Scott ioh-shark

Municipalities in aquarium communities, and California on a statewide basis, have enacted laws either banning single-use plastic from many foodservice operations or requiring businesses to offer plastic straws only when customers request them. ACP partner aquariums are supporting these efforts in a variety of ways.

“There’s new scientific evidence, almost on a weekly basis, about the ways that plastic pollution is harming marine and aquatic wildlife,” said Monterey Bay Aquarium Executive Director Julie Packard. “I find it so encouraging that people are responding quickly to the threat—by changing their habits, and asking businesses and governments to step up and take action.”

“The health of our lakes and rivers is important not only to the wildlife that live there – they are a recreation and economic resource for us all,” said Bridget Coughlin, president and CEO of Chicago’s Shedd Aquarium. “Beyond inspiring the public to take action, it’s our duty to empower businesses and community leaders to raise the issue of plastic pollution taking place in both freshwater and marine habitats, lead by example and make long-lasting, impactful change.”

“A sea change is underway, and people want to do their part to ensure the future of our ocean planet,” said National Aquarium President and Chief Executive Officer John Racanelli. “All 22 of the aquariums that make up the ACP are committed to reducing single-use plastics, and it is now our hope to inspire and serve as a model for other organizations and companies as well as individuals. The reality is that if everyone does their part, we can make a meaningful impact.”

ACP’s initiative has already expanded globally. Its work sparked the European Commission and United Nations Environment Program – with support from five international partners, including ACP – to announce a commitment by European Union Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Karmenu Vella at the 5th international “Our Ocean” conference October 29-30 in Bali, Indonesia to coordinate a global coalition of 200 aquariums by 2019 to raise public awareness about plastic pollution.FirstStep_text_penguins

For more information about the #FirstStep campaign or to take the pledge, please visit pledge.ourhands.org/.

 

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About the Aquarium Conservation Partnership

The Aquarium Conservation Partnership (ACP) is a collaboration of 22 U.S. public aquariums in 17 states, all committed to advancing conservation of the world’s ocean, lakes, and rivers through consumer engagement, business leadership, and policy changes.  ACP was founded by Shedd Aquarium in Chicago, Monterey Bay Aquarium in California, and National Aquarium in Baltimore, in collaboration with the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. More information at pledge.ourhands.org/.

WAVE Foundation’s Education Program Earns “Top Honors” Award from Association of Zoos and Aquariums

Silver Spring, Maryland (October 2, 2018) – The Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) announced WAVE Foundation at Newport Aquarium (WAVE) has been recognized with AZA’s 2018 Education Award for the Foundation’s Living Curriculum Initiative (LCI). WAVE Foundation was selected as the “Top Honors” recipient of this national award during AZA’s September conference in Seattle.

WAVE Foundation wins Top Honors at AZA

Dan Ashe, AZA President and CEO, presents the 2018 Education Award to Scott Wingate, Executive Director of WAVE Foundation, and Erin Shultz, Community Outreach Coordinator for WAVE Foundation.

The AZA Education Award recognizes outstanding achievement in educational program design.  Programs are judged on their ability to promote conservation knowledge, attitudes and behavior, show innovation, and measure success.

“Education at AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums is marked by a sharing of scientific discovery and a love of nature,” said AZA President and CEO Dan Ashe. “WAVE Foundation at Newport Aquarium is a leader in conservation education; with its immersive Living Curriculum Initiative instilling among its participants what Rachel Carson called, ‘a sense of wonder.’”

WAVE created the Living Curriculum Initiative, a program built to integrate science into a reading and writing focused curricula inspired by bringing live sharks into classrooms. The LCI works to revolutionize how science is introduced to elementary school students in public schools throughout Cincinnati. Based on increased pressure of common core standardized testing, many elementary schools across the nation are required to focus on reading and writing in grades K-3; often neglecting authentic science instruction before 4th grade. Correspondingly, students miss a critical development period to cultivate curiosity through experiential, knowledge building scientific inquiry-based practices.LCI Team

“The LCI program is developed to provide formal public learning institutions an intentional opportunity to integrate informal learning tools into their classrooms to provide improved outcomes on learning objectives and increase conservation ethic in participating schools, students and teachers,” said Scott Wingate, Executive Director of the WAVE Foundation.

WAVE Foundation is one of seven informal learning institutions that work in collaboration with Cincinnati Public Schools District (CPS) to advance formal education and boost achievement on standardized testing. Annually the program engage 30 science teachers, administrators and curriculum developers from CPS to address the science learning gap and develop innovative curriculum that advances our mission, the objectives of CPS, and their students.

Collaborative partners for this project included Cincinnati Public Schools and TutorGen, Inc.

To learn more about AZA’s Honors and Awards, please visit https://www.aza.org/honors-awards.

About WAVE Foundation
WAVE Foundation, in partnership with Newport Aquarium, strives to excite, engage and educate our community about the wonders of aquatic life and the importance of conservation. Programs exist in three core focus areas: education, conservation and volunteerism. WAVE provides unique education curriculum and experiences for students of all ages; supports and provides leadership in local, national and global conservation efforts; and has a vibrant volunteer program with over 500 dedicated volunteers. To learn more, visit: www.wavefoundation.org

About AZA
Founded in 1924, the Association of Zoos and Aquariums is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the advancement of zoos and aquariums in the areas of conservation, animal welfare, education, science, and recreation. AZA is the accrediting body for the top zoos and aquariums in the United States and seven other countries. Look for the AZA accreditation logo whenever you visit a zoo or aquarium as your assurance that you are supporting a facility dedicated to providing excellent care for animals, a great experience for you, and a better future for all living things. The AZA is a leader in saving species and your link to helping animals all over the world. To learn more, visit www.aza.org.

National Zoo Keeper Week 2018

This week is National Zoo Keeper Week. Even though we don’t have “Zoo Keepers,” our Biologists give exemplary care to the animals that live here at Newport Aquarium. Follow us throughout this week to see what our biologists do every day! #NZKW

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Mission: To recognize and promote dedicated zoo and aquarium professionals year round, culminating in an annual celebration during the third week in July – National Zoo Keeper Week.

Newport Aquarium has twelve biologists that care for all of the fish, reptiles, amphibians, and penguins that have their home here. Care for these animals is more than just simply feeding and giving the animals some attention. They also have a lot of cleaning, food preparation, and maintenance work to do! #NZKW

Training is an important part of the care of many of our animals here at Newport Aquarium. Animals like Mighty Mike and our Sharkrays are target trained. This means that they know to come to a target pole to get their food. This helps the biologists safely work with these animals and ensures that every one of them gets the food they need.

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Kelly and Erin target feed Mighty Mike, our 14-foot long, 800-pound alligator.

Our biologists give animals enrichment. Enrichment can be anything from a new object in their space, changing around their furniture, a new scent, sounds of their wild cousins, or a new food item. Our biologists use enrichment all of the time to stimulate our animal’s minds, keep them active, and help our animals engage in natural behaviors.

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Kristen celebrated Dr. Seuss Day by reading to the penguins.

There are many types of animals at the aquarium, which leads to many types of biologists who care for them. We have biologists who prefer work with the big sharks and those that work with the tiny dwarf seahorses. We have biologists who prefer to work with penguins and those that would rather work with frogs. But whatever our biologists do, they always work as a team to make sure the animals get the best care possible!

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Tamara is one of our resident penguin biologists. Her main job is taking care of our African Penguins. Tamara also works with our outreach reptiles.  Tamara says, “My favorite part of my job is learning the different personalities of all of the animals I work with!”

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Scott feeds Shark Central in the morning. The sharks like to eat squid.

Scott is a jack of all trades. He is an aquarist, a plumber, and one of the local news station’s favorite interviewees. Scott did our first Takeover Tuesday blog post. One of his favorite tanks to work with is our shark touch tank, Shark Central. “I love working with Shark Central because it has sharks from all over the world.”

IMG_3652 (2)Erin works with our reptile and amphibian collection. We featured Erin in A Day in the Life of a Herpetologist. While she is in charge of the care of our alligators and venomous reptiles, there is a special place in her heart for the frogs of Frog Bog. “Frogs are incredible animals. The way they change from their fish lifestyle as a tadpole to becoming a frog has always fascinated me!” #NZKW

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Kristen is one of our new biologists. She was first featured in our Animal Experience Specialist Takeover Tuesday. Because of this, she helps take care of a little bit of everything. “I love that I get to take care of many different kinds of animals. It helps to make every day interesting!”

Rob cleaning coral (2)Rob takes care of our live coral tanks. He also helps out in our Seahorse Gallery with the Ribbon Dragons and Dwarf Seahorses. “I love corals because they are colorful, challenging, and confusing to many people. They are a reminder to everyone that the health of our oceans is very important.”
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Ty has a passion for the invertebrates at Newport Aquarium. He leads team in the care for Simon the Octopus and the Jellyfish. “My favorite part of working with jellyfish is the culturing and propagation.” Learn more about Ty in his Takeover Tuesday: World of the Octopus Edition.

Health care is always on the mind of a good biologist. Daily observation of the animals helps to spot a problem before it starts. And if the need arises, our biologists work closely with our Vet Team to address any issue.

Our biologists realize that there is more to their work than simply taking care of the animals right in front of them. Conservation is a vital consideration at any aquarium. We at Newport Aquarium play our part as well. Our biologists have taken part in such projects as freshwater mussel studies here in Kentucky and sea turtle headstart programs in North Carolina.

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Kelly target trains the caiman lizard.

Kelly helps our reptiles live a happy, healthy life. She knows that training helps the animals get better care and helps to stimulate their minds. She is currently working to train many of our reptiles, including Nester, our caiman lizard. “I feel proud of Nester when he targets correctly. It is very satisfying.”

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Jen is with one of our shark rays in the acclimation pool.

Jen is an aquarist who works with all of our tunnel systems. This includes her favorite tank, Surrounded by Sharks. She says her favorite part of her job is “definitely the incredible animals she gets to work with!”

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Michelle hand feeds the stingrays in our stingray touch pool.

Michelle spends much of her day caring for our stingrays in Stingray Hideaway, and was featured in a special Takeover Tuesday all about Stingray Hideaway. Because stingrays are so intelligent and curious, she also makes sure they get the enrichment they need to live a stimulating and happy life. “Each stingray interacts with the enrichment in a different way. I love to watch the way each one expresses her own quirks when I give a new enrichment item.”

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Introducing Victoria to her “snow spa” behind the scenes. It helped her stay cool during her molting process.

Dan is our senior penguin biologist. He spends most of his day cleaning and caring for our cold weather penguins in Penguin Palooza. He’s taking care of Victoria the penguin. He says his favorite part of his job is penguin breeding. “It is challenging to breed them. I get one shot a year and if it doesn’t work, I have to try and figure out why.” Dan also wrote a Takeover Tuesday for World Penguin Day.

Feeding Starfish PictureMargaret is an aquarist who works with a variety of saltwater fish. She was featured in a special Tide Pool edition of Takeover Tuesday. She gives her time and talent to the animals that live in our Shore Gallery. “I am currently target training the Snowflake Eels and Trumpet Fish. It is cool to watch them learn and engage with me.”

IMG_1730 (2)Laurel works closely with our quarantine animals and those that live at our offsite animal health facility. She and the vet team are the first people that our animals encounter before they make their way to the exhibits here at Newport Aquarium. “The best part of this job is bringing animals to people who may never get to see them otherwise. It makes an impact on these people and helps them become more aware of the world and conservation needs.”

Thank you for following along and learning more about our talented team of animal care takers. Next time you see one of them,. #ThankAKeeper

 

 

 

Mighty Farewell: Famous Alligator Saying Goodbye to Newport Aquarium

NEWPORT, Ky. — After five years, wowing millions of people at Newport Aquarium, Mighty Mike, the largest American Alligator outside of Florida, is preparing to head back to the Sunshine State this summer.GoodbyeMightyMike_640x300

At 14 feet long and 800 pounds, Mighty Mike’s size makes it clear that he is truly a living dinosaur. Alligators have been around for 250 million years and seeing Mighty Mike up close reveals how these powerful creatures have survived so long. With his enormous teeth and muscular tail, this is one creature you may not want to come across in the wild, which makes it all the more important for the public to get to meet animal ambassadors like Mighty Mike.DSC_7713

Wowing guests with his amazing size, Mighty Mike has built connections with guests that will stay with them forever. “Getting the public to understand and appreciate these animals has been a critical factor in helping the American alligator achieve sustainable populations after being listed as endangered for decades,” said Eric Rose, Executive Director at Newport Aquarium. “We’re grateful to the Crocodilian Conservation Center and to our world-class animal care team for keeping Mike happy and healthy all these years, and to all the guests who’ve come to see him.”

Mighty Mike is going back home to the Crocodilian Conservation Center in Florida, where he will continue to share an important conservation message as an ambassador for wetlands habitat and preservation. He will create opportunities for others to care more about watersheds and ecosystems around them.Gator2

The last chance to see this living dinosaur at Newport Aquarium is September 9. Fans will have the chance to leave well wishes for Mighty Mike on a banner that will be on display in Gator Alley for the rest of the summer.

One Kid FREE – Extended By Popular Demand
For a very limited time, Newport Aquarium is offering one free child admission with each full price adult. The offer is valid Sundays through Fridays after 4 p.m. and is available exclusively online at NewportAquarium.com

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 Extended Summer Hours
Just for summer, Newport Aquarium is extending its hours and will be open from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily between May 27 and September 2.

Two Summers of Fun with an Annual Pass
For a limited time only, guests will get two extra months free when they purchase an Annual Pass.  That’s 14 months of fun and discovery for the price of 12 months, plus exclusive Passholder events, bring a friend free days and additional savings throughout the year. This offer ends July 22, 2018.

For more information, visit NewportAquarium.com or call 800-406-FISH (3474).

Celebrate #SharkSummer at Newport Aquarium

NEWPORT, Ky. — It’s just not summer without sharks! Newport Aquarium, the Shark Capital of the Midwest, is kicking off the summer season and Memorial Day weekend with free kid’s admission and a fintastic event celebrating sharks!

02SharkSummerLogoWithSurfBoards_PNG - CopyDuring #SharkSummer, May 27 to July 8, guests will get the opportunity to journey through the aquarium, discovering fun shark facts and shark related exhibits around every corner. They’ll even get to touch sharks including a new species of shark never before featured at Newport Aquarium. Plus, Sundays through Fridays, one kid (ages 2-12) gets in free after 4 p.m. with the purchase of a full-priced adult ticket. This offer is available for a very limited time only from May 27 to July 8 and must be purchased online at https://www.newportaquarium.com/Visitor-Tips/Aquarium-Events/Summer-Family-Hours.

New Baby Sharks
Newport Aquarium is excited to announce the arrival of a new species of shark that is swimming its way into Shark Central. Wasabi and Sake, two baby Japanese Bullhead Sharks just joined more than a dozen other sharks in the Shark Central touch tank.

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Guests can easily spot the sharks as they make sand angels in the bottom of their tank, and by their long fins as they swim alongside the bigger sharks. They join the rest of their kelp forest “cousins,” including the Port Jackson, Leopard Shark, Leopard Catshark and Striped Catshark species. The aquarium is welcoming the new residents during Shark Summer from May 27 to July 8.


Extended Summer Hours

Just in time for summer, Newport Aquarium is extending its summer hours and will be open from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily between May 27 and September 2.

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Guests can touch more than a dozen different sharks in Shark Central.

 

Two Summers of Fun with an Annual Pass
For a limited time only, guests will get two extra months free when they purchase an Annual Pass.  That’s 14 months of fun and discovery for the price of 12 months, plus exclusive Passholder events, bring a friend free days and additional savings throughout the year.

#SharkSummer
With extra time and free kid’s admission, guests have the opportunity to visit Newport Aquarium for Shark Summer, which runs May 27 to July 8. See sharks like never before when you cross over the open waters of the 385,000-gallon Surrounded by Sharks exhibit on Shark Bridge. Experience what it feels like to touch six different species in Shark Central. Then, get nose-to-nose with sharks when they swim next to you and above you as you venture through more than 80 feet of acrylic tunnels.

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Explore the tunnels, and be Surrounded by Sharks!

Shark-Infested Activities during #SharkSummer

Shark Nursery – See shark eggs from three different species of sharks. Guests will have the opportunity to see the early stages of life as a baby shark grows in the egg. This brand new shark nursery is in the Shore Gallery.

Shark Bridge – More than 2 million thrill-seekers have dared to cross Shark Bridge! Included with admission, Shark Bridge is a 75-foot-long rope bridge suspended just inches above nearly two dozen sharks.

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More than 2-million thrill-seekers have dared to cross Shark Bridge.

Shark Talks and Dive Shows – Guests catch their first and largest views of shark rays and sharks in Shark Ray Bay Theater. Divers take questions from the audience about the biology and conservation of sharks and other animals found inside the huge habitat.

Shark Tank Feed – Guests can watch biologists feed the sharks and shark rays from either the Shark Ray Bay Theater, Surrounded by Sharks tunnels or through a biologist’s point-of-view from the Shark Tank Overlook.

Touch Sharks – Inside Shark Central, guests have the opportunity to touch more than a dozen sharks including the brand new Japanese Bullhead Sharks. An Animal Experience Specialist teaches guests the proper technique to touch sharks and helps them understand each species in this international collection.

For more information, visit NewportAquarium.com or call 800-406-FISH (3474).

 

 

 

 

 

 

Newport Aquarium Animal Caretakers Rally Behind Paralyzed Penguin

In honor of World Penguin Day, we’re sharing an amazing story that’s incredibly close to our hearts. It’s a story about one of our feathered friends who is on the road to recovery from a medical defect to her spinal cord. A year ago, Victoria the penguin couldn’t walk. Now, thanks to the care, attention and love of Newport Aquarium’s dedicated biologists, she’s making great progress.

Penguin loft - Victoria and Clifford

Victoria and Clifford in the penguin loft – November, 2016.

Victoria the Macaroni penguin came to Newport Aquarium in 2010, with her mate, Clifford. “She’s a real sweetheart – a super friendly bird,” said Dan Clady, Senior Biologist. Before her injury, guests could often find the pair spending time together in the loft area in the Penguin Palooza habitat.

Vet Visit
Senior biologist, Dan Clady, first noticed something was wrong with Victoria in February 2017, when she was seen laying around in Penguin Palooza, and not walking. Clady was baffled; he had been working with penguins since 1999 and had never seen anything like it. Initially, Clady thought Victoria had somehow broken her back when he found her in Penguin Palooza.

Penguin Palooza

Penguin Palooza is home to nearly 50 penguins.

But the bird’s condition was a mystery as “There was no possible way that she fell, causing a traumatic event that way,” said Jolene Hanna, Animal Health & Quarantine Manager, and Veterinary Technician.

Close to 50 penguins live in Penguin Palooza, including King penguins, Macaroni, Southern Rockhopper, Gentoo and Chinstrap penguins. Clady and Hanna turned to Newport Aquarium’s Director of Veterinary Services, Dr. Peter Hill, who took X-rays, which showed no broken bones. “She could not bring herself into an upright position,” said Hanna. “We could not find through the radiograph why this bird was not able to stand.” Dr. Hill started Victoria on a round of medicine, including anti-inflammatories, pain reducers and steroids as part of her treatment.

Victoria Xray

Dr. Joseph Bruner (left), Jolene Hanna, and Dr. Peter Hill review Victoria’s X-ray at Greater Cincinnati Veterinary Specialists. The X-ray showed no broken bones.

“Because blood clotting was a possibility, we had to rule that out. So we put her on a series of drugs to try to figure out what we could rule out in terms of what could be the problem,” Hanna said.

Victoria exam

Victoria could not stand on her own.

After about a month, nothing changed. That’s when they decided to take Victoria in for a CT scan, which revealed a hole in her spinal cord. “It’s a defect and it was in the center of the spinal cord right at her pelvic girdle,” said Hanna, “it impacted her nerves.”

Victoria CT scan

A CT scan revealed a pin-sized hole in Victoria’s spinal cord.

Dr. Hill says he’s happy they were able to identify the lesion. “Often times these things go undiagnosed due to lack of equipment, and not testing for it.”

Swimming in Circles
Clady says the best physical therapy for Victoria was to get her back in the water, and Dr. Hill agrees. Another big step towards recovery has been to make sure she’s spending time with her fellow penguins.

“These are colonial birds, they don’t like being alone,” Clady said. Victoria gets physical therapy every day, and you can find her swimming in Penguin Palooza from 8:30-2:30 daily for her water therapy. Victoria is easily identified thanks to a red tag on both of her wings. She’s the one swimming in circles in the exhibit, as she makes progress on her left foot.  She now has full control of her right foot.

 “It’s a testament to the staff that we pursued this, and stuck with the physical therapy, and saw this treatment through, to where we are today,” said Dr. Hill.

Molting
Victoria couldn’t spend all her time in Penguin Palooza, especially when she started molting. All birds molt – they lose their feathers. Penguins have a unique molting process.

Victoria on Ice

Penguins have a unique molting process. They shed all of their feathers at once.

“When they molt, they get hot, like physically hot,” said Clady. That’s a natural condition normal in their native cold environment. Victoria went through her molt in early March, which is different than most birds because while other birds only shed a few feathers at a time, penguins shed all of their feathers at once.  During Victoria’s molting season, Clady moved her into the “cold room” behind the scenes, for a different form of therapy.

Snow Spa
Victoria started receiving a “snow spa” treatment. She spent her days lying in fresh snow that Dan shoveled daily just for her, until she finished molting. Dan described the process of molting as uncomfortable for Victoria, comparing it to a baby teething.

Dan, Jolene, and Victoria1

Introducing Victoria to her “snow spa” behind the scenes. It helped her stay cool during her molting process.

Penguins have a core temperature of 101 degrees and can easily overheat. The “snow spa” that Dan set up for her helped her stay cool and comfortable while she was going through molting. Molting is a normal process but with her working on recovery from her spinal condition, the animal care team was happy to do anything they could to make her more comfortable.

“She sat in that snow, and started digging around. She enjoyed being able to cool off in there,” Clady said. “It alleviated the pressure on her chest too.”

Making Progress
A year later, Victoria has full control of her right foot, she’s still working on her left foot.

She’s now able to prop herself up, and Dan helps her stabilize herself. “She keeps taking a step in the right direction, and she’s constantly getting better.” said Clady.

Victoria

Victoria floats around on top the water, while Senior Biologist, Dan Clady, sprays the rockwork in Penguin Palooza.

Victoria is improving over time, and Dr. Hill says spinal cord lesions take a lot of time to improve. It’s thanks to the attentiveness of her dedicated animal care team that Victoria has made the progress she has so far.

“The upside is she is able to swim, and that’s ideal for her mental attitude and physical therapy. She’s maintained a sense of mental balance. Without that, I think she would’ve deteriorated. Without a stimulus, physical therapy and the enrichment of being around birds, she would’ve likely deteriorated quickly – from not only a mental state, but also muscle atrophy,” said Dr. Hill.

Victoria

Victoria takes a dip underwater. She’s easily identifiable by her red wing bands.

The animal care team continues to work with Victoria as she heals and improves. You might think Victoria’s the one getting all the benefit from this care. But it’s clear in talking with each of the Newport Aquarium animal experts, from Dan to Jolene to Dr. Hill and many others, they are each nurtured by their special relationship with Victoria.

Meet the “Mother of Volunteers”

It’s National Volunteer Appreciation Week, and we’re shining the spotlight on the “Mother of Volunteers,” the woman who single-handedly created our Volunteer & Intern Services program from the ground up for WAVE Foundation at Newport Aquarium. The woman with a vision is no other than Jenny Greber, Community Engagement Manager, and head of the Volunteer & Intern Services program.

Jenny Greber

“I started the volunteer and intern services program from scratch, which has been a wonderful opportunity.”

“I started at the aquarium in July of 1999, and the grand opening was May 15, 1999, so I came in less than two months later and after three weeks I had my first volunteer on the exhibit floor.”

“I actually created my job.  I was living in Seattle at the time and my mom sent me this newspaper clipping in the mail that said an aquarium was being opened (in Newport). I called and explained to them that I had volunteered and worked for the Seattle Aquarium and I told them I would like to come and help out there.”

Initially they told her that they were not going to have volunteers. They told her to call back later after they had officially opened, and call back she did.

“I called back every month for three months,” said Greber. “On the last call I gave them a list of reasons why they really should include volunteers in their aquarium.”  They were so impressed by her determination that they asked her to fax over her resume. From there, Greber would have a phone interview with the aquarium, they faxed her an offer, she accepted and the rest as they say is history.

Jenny Greber has been at the aquarium for almost 19 years. Her anniversary is this July.

“I started the volunteer and intern services program from scratch, which has been a wonderful opportunity.”

Jenny has been here every step of the way and has seen the WAVE Foundation and Newport Aquarium grow along the way. Believe it or not, at the time, not everyone was on board with the idea of having volunteers.

“There’s always road blocks with change, whether it’s good or bad, its human nature. People resist change, regardless of what it is. Coming in after the aquarium opened was challenging, people were worried that these volunteers were going to take their jobs, and they weren’t,” says Greber.

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“Volunteers are icing on the cake, they aren’t the cake, they are the icing, and they are here to help, they are here to share our mission, they’re here to engage our guests and add that extra sugar on top value that we want to keep giving on a consistent basis.”     

“My favorite part about my job is that I have the opportunity to allow the community to take part and be a part of this family. The community enhances that family dynamic. To have others experience that is awesome and that’s my favorite part.”

Of course with being the Community Engagement Manager for almost 20 years, there are many parts of Jenny’s job that she adores.

“One of the things I get really excited about is where people land after they get done having their journey here, this is just a stepping stone for a lot of the younger people in our community. It’s so wonderful to know the hundreds of people that we put into the industry that are now at AZA accredited institutions,” she said.

WAVE Award

WAVE Foundation was awarded the Inspiring Service Volunteer Engagement Award at the SVP Fast Pitch Awards.

“To see the teenagers who are now PhDs, to see some of the summer naturalists who are now veterinarians, to see some of the volunteers and interns who are now working here as employees, no matter what department they’re in.”

Jenny’s experience, “building  a program from scratch to having over 300 active volunteers,” is unparalleled, according to Dan Dunlap, the Conservation Education Curator at WAVE Foundation.

“Her knowledge of the volunteer industry and her connections in the community are irreplaceable,” said Dunlap.

WAVE Foundation’s Volunteer Department recently won a prestigious award at Social Venture Partners’ fifth annual Fast Pitch competition. WAVE was recognized with the Inspiring Service Volunteer Engagement Award.

“I love my job, this is my dream job, and I’m really excited to be able to see where we started, see where we are and to have an idea of where we’re going to go.”

Jenny Greber has changed the lives of thousands of volunteers and interns, and helped hundreds secure job opportunities within AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums.

Want to volunteer? Come and join our family at WAVE Foundation at Newport Aquarium and check out our volunteer and intern services opportunities on WAVE Foundation’s website or give the Community Engagement Office a call at 859-815-1424 for any questions you might have! This is a family you will be proud to be a part of!