End of an Era – Ric Urban’s Return to the South

All of us at Newport Aquarium want to wish Ric Urban a fond farewell! After spending the past 14 years with us here at Newport Aquarium, sharing the wonders of wildlife and saving wild spaces, Ric is about to embark on his next chapter – and he’s returning to the south!

Ric Urban

Ric has left a legacy a thousand times over, giving people a greater appreciation for wildlife and wild places. – Eric Rose, Executive Director at Newport Aquarium 

Ric has more than 35 years of experience working in AZA-accredited institutions. He joined us at Newport Aquarium in 2004 as Curator of Birds and Mammals. During that time, he increased the aquarium’s penguin collection from two species to six by hand-raising several birds. He also helped bring American alligator, Mighty Mike, and albino alligators, Snowball and Snowflake, to the facility. While Ric’s role and title may have changed over the past 14 years, his dedication to conservation never disappeared.

 

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He has been responsible for developing partnerships that promote in-house and off-site conservation programs involving animals and ecosystems, as well as promoting the aquarium’s conservation efforts. Ric is active in the community as a member of Banklick Watershed Council, Sanitation District No. 1, the annual Ohio River Sweep, Reforest Northern Kentucky, and the Muscular Dystrophy Association Lock-up.

From transforming the Tri-State’s water shed and landscape, to protecting local species, Ric Urban has inspired the conservationist in all of us.

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“I always tell people that while I am living and breathing I don’t want these African penguins to be extinct, we’re not going to let that happen.” – Ric Urban

Our community is a better place because Ric lived here and spent nearly every waking moment of those 14 years inspiring others to care for the planet and its animals the way that he does. He showed us we can make a difference, that small conservation efforts add up to big ones, and that our environment is worth caring about. We’re going to miss him- and if you’ve ever met him you know there are too many reasons why to list.

My favorite conversations that Ric had with so many people went something like this.

Person: Oh, I’ve never seen a __________ (insert any animal) in-person before.

Ric: Yes, it is quite beautiful isn’t it?

Person: Definitely. Can I touch it? Will it bite?

Ric: Well, everything with teeth will bite if it feels threatened…but generally not.

                                                                                                                                –Chad Showalter

There are so many stories that I could tell about Ric Urban. He was not only the man who first hired me at the Newport Aquarium in 2011, but he quickly became my mentor. Later down the road he became my travel partner, conservation adviser and friend. I have seen first-hand the impacts he has had on summer-camp kids, volunteers of all ages, his own daughter and me.

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Ric and Alle traveled to Peru in 2012 to help protect endangered seabirds, including penguins.

One of my favorite stories was traveling with him to Peru for the Humboldt Penguin Guano Harvest in 2012. He had just undergone shoulder surgery, but still thought it would be a great idea to army crawl into a guano-filled penguin nest with one of our hosts. Why not!

If you get the chance, be sure to ask him about the “bear in the bathroom” story. It is one of my favorites! Ric truly is one-of-a-kind and will be missed greatly, but I know he will make a positive impact in Gulfport. Cheers! – Alle Barber

Ric is described by his colleagues as talented and good-natured, helping him to become quite the television and public personality. You might have seen him on Living Dayton with Nagini our red-tailed boa, or on WLWT talking to Randi Rico about Bindi the Blue-Tongued Skink and Oreo our Argentine Black & White Tegu, or sharing important conservation messages about African penguins while visiting every local and regional television station, as well as a Cincinnati Reds baseball game with Paula the African penguin, an important ambassador for her species. Ric often tells people, “When you get a chance to be close to nature and touch the animals, you begin to feel a personal connection with that animal. It’s a connection with nature, a connection with conservation.”

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Ric has made it his life’s mission to protect African penguins, an endangered species threatened by increasing competition from commercial fisheries for food and harmful crude oil spills. Ric is the Project Coordinator for the AZA SAFE African Penguin Individual Identification Project. He also holds a seat on the AZA African Penguin Species Survival Plan (SSP), Penguin Taxon Advisory Group (TAG), and is a member of the AZA’s Animal Welfare Committee. “I always tell people that while I am living and breathing I don’t want these African penguins to be extinct, we’re not going to let that happen,” said Ric.

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Thursday afternoon, Newport Aquarium cast members came together to share a final farewell. Reflecting upon these last 14 years, the positive relationships he has made and the legacy he will leave behind, Ric left us with these final words, “don’t be sad that it’s over, be glad that it happened.”

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Ric’s new adventure will be at the Mississippi Aquarium as their Director of Husbandry & Conservation.

See ya later, Ric!

African Penguin Awareness Days Oct. 8 – 16 at Newport Aquarium

By: Ric Urban, Chief Conservation Officer

Newport Aquarium is celebrating African Penguin Awareness Week October 8th  through October 16th. On Saturday, October 8th we are kicking off African Penguin Awareness Day with an entire week focused on African Penguins. During this week, we want to tell the story of the African Penguins and what the WAVE Foundation and the Newport Aquarium are doing to prevent the species from moving closer to extinction. From Saturday October 8th-Sunday October 16th we are donating every “Dollar for Conservation” that we get to SANCCOB’s disaster relief and chick-rearing efforts.

African penguins

Over the past decade there has been a dramatic drop in the population for African Penguins. In 2006, there was estimated to be over 100,000 African Penguins in South Africa. Today it is estimated to be less than 50,000 birds in Namibia and South Africa.

Why have numbers dropped so drastically?  The answer is not very simple since there are several different levels of influence on the population.  But two areas to focus would be competition for food with the fishing industry and the oil industry.

Competition For Food
The Benguela marine ecosystem is one of the richest in sardines and anchovies in the world and located off the coast of South Africa and the breeding colonies of the African Penguins.  This is a main food choice for African Penguins.  However, there is competition for food for the African Penguins; this area is also heavily fished by commercial fisheries. The competition with the fisheries and warming sea waters, forces the birds to travel further out to sea to catch fish in order to feed the chicks on the nest.

The additional travel for the adult birds only compounds the situations, expending more energy requires more food for them and their chicks. This means more time in the ocean, and the threat of predators, both at sea and on land.  At sea, the adults can fall prey to Cape fur seals and sharks.  On land, the chicks and eggs can be eaten by Kelp Gulls and small carnivores that have access to mainland colonies.

The Oil Industry
The oil industry has just increased their goals for production and the construction of more oil rigs in the region.  In 2000, the MV Treasure sank in Table Bay, South Africa.  This event caused the oiling of over 19,000 African Penguins.  Crude oil is dangerous for the penguins; it breaks down the natural water-proofing of the birds while at sea.  The oil causes them to become water-logged, hypothermic, disoriented and sometimes not able to make it back to shore.  Once on shore, the penguins will begin to preen themselves; ingesting the oil, becoming ill and potentially dying if not helped.  Rescuing oiled African penguins is a regular occurrence in South Africa.
Making A Difference
The WAVE Foundation at the Newport Aquarium promotes and raises funds to support SANCCOB (The South African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds) in Cape Town.  SANCCOB rescues, rehabilitates and releases approximately 1,000 African Penguins a year affected by oil.  The staff and volunteers of SANCCOB dedicate themselves every day to the African Penguins and other sea birds.  They need our support.

The Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) initiated a program in 2015 called SAFE (Saving Animals from Extinction); targeting 10 endangered species around the world.  Collaborative Conservation will identify and prioritize the needs of a species and build a 3-year Conservation Action Plan (CAP).

Ric Urban, Chief Conservation Officer at Newport Aquarium, was appointed by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) to be the Program Coordinator for the AZA SAFE African Penguin Individual Identification Project.

Ric Urban, Chief Conservation Officer at Newport Aquarium, was appointed by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) to be the Program Coordinator for the AZA SAFE African Penguin Individual Identification Project.

The Newport Aquarium is playing an integral part of this conservation plan.  Passive Integrated Transponders (PIT) Tags are being used as part of the Individual Identification Project that the Newport Aquarium is responsible for coordinating.  A collaboration of AZA Partners – The Racine Zoo, Northeastern Zoo of Wisconsin, the Maryland Zoo, Sea World and the WAVE Foundation at the Newport Aquarium as well as our South African Partners are working together to individually identify 10% of the world’s population of African Penguins over the next 3 years. PIT Tagging will allow biologists to assess longevity and survival, nest site, natal site and mate fidelity, inter-colony movement, and many other metrics that will be helpful to management of the species.

Now is the time to Act – you can make a difference during African Penguin Awareness Week.  Everyone can contribute to the conservation of African Penguins by visiting the Newport Aquarium.  By visiting the Newport Aquarium Gift Shop, you can make a contribution to “Dollars to Conservation” when you purchase anything in the store, or you can just make a donation at the desk.  All the proceeds during this week to “Dollars for Conservation” will go directly to support SANCCOB and the rescue, rehabilitation and release of African Penguins.

The African Penguin is an endangered species, threatened with extinction that needs our help.  You can learn more about how to contribute by visiting, www.wavefoundation.org or www.AZASavingSpecies.org

Saving penguins in South Africa

By: Ric Urban, Chief Conservation Officer

Our AZA African Penguin Tagging Team moves from the mainland to Robben Island. They’re spending 12 days in South Africa, tagging penguins and gathering data on Africa’s endangered penguins. The team includes Mike McClure from Maryland Zoo and Kylene Plemons from Sea World San Diego. Over the 12 days, the team is visiting a couple of penguin rescue and rehabilitation facilities as well as collecting data in three penguin colonies; the Robben Island colony, the Boulder’s Beach colony and the Stony Point colony.

Boulders colony 1

Experts from SeaWorld and the Maryland Zoo traveled to South Africa to work alongside the South African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds (SANCCOB) in an effort to help tag the endangered African penguin. The trip is part of the SAFE: Saving Animals From Extinction African Penguin Conservation Action Plan. Since the early 1900’s the population of African penguins in the wild has dropped by a staggering 97%.

Robben Island
After a couple days of orientation and training at SANCCOB, the AZA African Penguin Tagging Team headed out to stay with the colony on Robben Island. Robben Island was once the site of the prison which held Nelson Mandela and once a thriving population of African penguins.  With the introduction of invasive species and introduced species such as house cats and rabbits, the penguin population has plummeted to approximately 3,000 birds.

Logging field work

Experts from SeaWorld and the Maryland Zoo traveled to South Africa to work alongside the South African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds (SANCCOB) in an effort to help tag the endangered African penguin. The trip is part of the SAFE: Saving Animals From Extinction African Penguin Conservation Action Plan. Since the early 1900’s the population of African penguins in the wild has dropped by a staggering 97%.

Saving Species
While staying on Robben Island, the AZA African Penguin Tagging Team will be working with Dr. Richard Sherley, from University of Exeter.  Dr. Sherley has been studying African Penguins on Robben Island since 2007. His research focuses on the nesting success, survival and dispersal of seabirds to understand the impact of anthropogenic and environmental change in marine ecosystems.

The AZA African Penguin Tagging Team was able to tag and collect data on 53 penguins on Robben Island.  It was an impressive number for Dr. Sherley and Dr. Katrin Ludynia, field biologist for SANCCOB and the University of Cape Town.

MarylandZoo MMcClure

Maryland Zoo Curator Mike McClure spent the day tagging penguin chicks.

In an email, Mike McClure said, “Yesterday was very successful as we located and checked about half of the nests we were looking for. We transpondered 22 birds (6 adults and 16 fledglings) and gathered a lot of raw data on each bird. We also learned more about the project than we could ever do had we not been here in person.”

nesting penguins

The field conditions are quite harsh, penguins find areas to nest in dense, thorny underbrush which is a great defense against predators and provides protection from the weather.

The field conditions are quite harsh, penguins find areas to nest in dense, thorny underbrush which is a great defense against predators and provides protection from the weather.  Therefore it makes it difficult to locate the nests, and capture and collect data on the birds.

 

Boulder’s Beach
After spending several days on Robben Island, it was time to return to the mainland and head to Boulder’s Beach. Boulder’s Beach is one of the few mainland colonies of African penguins. Over 700,000 visitors come to see the penguins at Boulder’s annually. This colony is threatened by predation from wild and domestic animals, parasites, disturbance by guests and being hit by vehicles.

Boulders penguins in surf

Boulder’s Beach is one of the few mainland colonies of African penguins. Over 700,000 visitors come to see the penguins at Boulder’s annually.

At the time of writing this Blog, the AZA African Penguin Tagging Team was traveling to Gansbaii, which is home to the Dyer Island Conservation Trust (DICT) and the African Penguin and Seabird Sanctuary (APSS).  The APSS is another rescue and rehabilitation facility for African penguins and seabirds along the South African Coastline.  There, the team is going to work with African Penguins at APSS and learn about their programs for rehabilitation and release of the penguins.

After spending the weekend in Gansbaii, the AZA African Penguin Tagging Team will be heading back toward Cape Town to Betty’s Bay and Stony Point. Stony Point sits on this coastal bay and is home to the only penguin colony that is presently increasing in population.  This area is managed by our partners, Cape Nature.  Habitat restoration is important and the removal invasive plants have improved the area for the penguins.  This beach also sees a seasonal increase of penguins in November, when birds come from their island nesting colony to gorge on fish and molt. After the molt, they head back to their island colony for breeding and nesting.

There has been much learned and much more to learn in future trips to work with the field biologists, rangers and researchers.  The information gathered should help support management decisions and improve habitats for the nesting colonies. The goals will be set higher for 2017 and I hope to be reporting to all of our supporters from South Africa next spring on the successes of the AZA African Penguin Individual Identification Project.

If you are interested in helping support our efforts in protecting the African Penguins, you can:

  • Contribute to the WAVE Foundation at the Newport Aquarium (wavefoundation.org) to support the AZA African Penguin Tagging Project
  • Participate in a “Penguin Encounter” at the Newport Aquarium. A portion of the proceeds of your encounter benefit the Aquatic Conservation Fund.
  • “Round-Up” your purchase in the gift shop to support the “Dollars for Conservation” program
  • Adopt” a Penguin online from the WAVE Foundation at the Newport Aquarium
  • Download the Seafood Watch App and contribute to eating sustainable seafood
  • Reduce, Reuse and Recycle – reducing our dependency for plastic will help lower the amount of plastic pollution in the environment around us and in our oceans

Read more about the African Penguin PIT Tagging Project in Part 1: Chief Conservation Officer at Newport Aquarium leads efforts in saving African penguins

On World Penguin Day—and Every Day – AZA-Accredited Aquariums and Zoos are Working to Save Species

Today is World Penguin Day, and in honor of these species, aquariums and zoos accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) are raising awareness to help the future of this beloved species.African penguins 2

AZA-accredited aquariums and zoos work not only for the penguins in their care, but also actively participate in efforts to help save them in the wild and to contribute to the scientific understanding of these species.

Paula Shark Wall

Paula the African penguin, pauses for a photo opp in front of Shark Wall.

“Here at Newport Aquarium, we engage our guests daily through a penguin parade and our penguin encounters; we educate them about the plight of the African penguin. Hopefully through our efforts, we can create awareness that will save the penguins,” said Ric Urban, Chief Conservation Officer at Newport Aquarium.

There are six penguin species at Newport Aquarium – African, King, Gentoo, Macaroni, Southern Rockhopper and Chinstrap. Currently, all 18 of the world’s penguin species are legally protected from hunting and egg collection, but they continue to face threats. In particular, African penguins have seen a large decrease in population size and are listed as Endangered on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species™. In the last 100 years, African penguin breeding pairs, which numbered almost one million at the beginning of the 20th century, have dropped to approximately 25,000 – a 97 percent decrease. Reasons for this decline include oil spills; a loss of nest burrow sites due to historical harvest of penguin droppings in breeding colonies; and a reduction in prey due to commercial fishing.

Between 2010 and 2014, more than 30 AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums took part in or supporting field conservation projects benefitting African penguins. During those five years, the AZA community invested almost a half million dollars in African penguin conservation.

AZA-accredited aquariums and zoos frequently provide financial support to field conservation partners such as Southern African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds (SANCCOB), which provides high-quality rehabilitation and veterinary services to African penguins and other seabirds in need. SANCCOB also has a strong focus on raising awareness about endangered seabirds through conservation education programs and research projects, many of which have an AZA-accredited member as a collaborator.

Penguin Palooza

Newport Aquarium’s Penguin Palooza includes five species of cold-weather penguins including the Gentoo, King, Macaroni, Southern Rockhopper and Chinstrap.

In 2012, Ric Urban and WAVE Conservation Manager, Alle Barber (Alle Foster at the time), joined a small group of scientists on a penguin conservation trip to Peru to help protect endangered seabirds. Read more about their journey here.

Additionally, AZA aquariums and zoos, and other like-minded organizations, are collaborating through a bold effort focused on saving species from extinction and restoring them in their natural ranges. AZA SAFE: Saving Animals From Extinction combines the power of engaging 183-million annual AZA-accredited aquarium and zoo visitors with the collective expertise of these facilities and their conservation partners to save signature species, including the African penguin. SAFE also provides a unique platform for AZA-accredited aquariums and zoos to increase the impact of their field conservation efforts and conservation contributions.

“World Penguin Day is the perfect day for people to get involved. While the number of African penguins has drastically declined, the good news is that by taking conservation actions, we can still make a difference in saving these species. However, we can’t do this alone, and we hope that others who care deeply about penguins–and the other species connected to their ecosystem—will join us in helping them,” said Urban.

Penguin painting

African penguins just finished painting these masterpieces, all of which you can purchase in the Newport Aquarium gift shop. Proceeds help the WAVE Foundation.

To help make a difference on World Penguin Day and every day, the public is encouraged to:

  • Purchase a one-of-a-kind hands-on experience with these amazing birds through a Penguin Encounter
  • Purchase original penguin artwork from our in-house Picassos – our African penguins created these masterpieces that you can order online or buy in Newport Aquarium’s gift shop
  • Buy sustainable seafood. Check out Seafood Watch for sustainable food selections.
  • Share messages about African penguins on social media to help raise awareness. Be sure to use the hashtag #SavingSpecies

For more information about AZA SAFE and how to help African penguins and other species, please visit: http://azaanimals.org/savingspecies/.

Association of Zoos & Aquariums chooses Newport Aquarium to publicly detail international endangered species campaign

Newport Aquarium’s AZA accreditation extended through 2019

Newport Aquarium Executive Director Eric Rose (left) receives the aquarium's renewed accreditation from Association of Zoos & Aquarium Executive Director Kris Vehrs.

Newport Aquarium Executive Director Eric Rose (left) receives the aquarium’s renewed accreditation from Association of Zoos & Aquarium Executive Director Kris Vehrs.

NEWPORT, Ky. — On Endangered Species Day, an international initiative to help save species from extinction and restore them to healthy sized populations in the wild was publicly announced to the world from Newport Aquarium.

Standing in front of Newport Aquarium guests and elected officials at Shark Ray Bay theater, the executive director of the Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA) Kris Vehrs detailed a new campaign entitled SAFE: Saving Animals From Extinction (SAFE).

“By focusing the wild animal care, conservation, and science expertise of our 229 AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums and our conservation partners with the power of activating our 180 million annual visitors, we believe SAFE will be a game changer for global conservation,” said Vehrs.

Initially, SAFE will focus on 10 key species from a list of more than 100 that are facing serious threats and are critical to maintaining overall ecosystems. Newport Aquarium exhibits three of those species: African penguins, sharks and sea turtles.

Tilly is the name of choice for Newport Aquarium's Facebook fans.

Sea turtles are one of three species at Newport Aquarium that are now part of the SAFE program.

Every year for at least the next decade, 10 species will be added to SAFE based on the most current science and the availability of resources.

Vehrs also announced the renewal of AZA accreditation to Newport Aquarium, which opened its doors 16 years ago to the day on May 15, 1999.

“Newport Aquarium is passionate about caring for and sharing the amazing aquatic world with our guests, said Eric Rose, executive director of Newport Aquarium. “We couldn’t be prouder to serve as a host site for the AZA to launch the SAFE program and to receive our renewed AZA accreditation on both Endangered Species Day and our 16-year anniversary.”

Newport Aquarium will be raising awareness for the SAFE program and recognizing Endangered Species Day all weekend long, May 15-17, with special programming geared toward educating guests about the everyday actions they can take to help with animal conservation.

For more information on Newport Aquarium, visit NewportAquarium.com or call toll free 800-406-FISH (3474).

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 aza.org.

About SAFE: Saving Animals From Extinction
SAFE: Saving Animals From Extinction combines the power of zoo and aquarium visitors with the resources and collective expertise of AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums and partners to save animals from extinction. Together we are working on saving the most vulnerable wildlife species from extinction and protecting them for future generations. To learn more, visit AZAsavingspecies.org.

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Newport Aquarium, voted the No. 1 aquarium in the country by USA Today’s 10Best.com in 2012, 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.

Find us on: Facebook.com/NewportAquarium | Twitter: @NewportAquarium

One Aquarium Way | Newport, KY 41071 | 859-261-7444
www.newportaquarium.com

Newport Aquarium’s conservation efforts honored by Kentucky’s Environmental Quality Commission

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(L-R): Dr. Leonard K. Peters, Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet secretary; Alle Barber (with Paula the penguin), WAVE Foundation at Newport Aquarium program conservation manager; Eric Rose, Newport Aquarium executive director; Halida Hatic, Center for Interfaith Relation director of community relations and keynote speaker; Steve Coleman, Kentucky Environmental Quality Commission chairman.

FRANKFORT, Ky.Newport Aquarium received accolades Friday from the Kentucky Environmental Quality Commission for its environmental conservation efforts during the annual Earth Day Awards ceremony at Berry Hill Mansion.

Earth Day Awards from the EQC recognize individuals and organizations for their extraordinary efforts to enhance and improve environmental quality.

Newport Aquarium was praised for promoting a “Water Story” throughout its exhibits with the goal of educating its guests about the importance of water conservation throughout the world.

“Over 50 percent of the air we breathe is produced by the ocean, so it’s our job at Newport Aquarium to tell people about the importance of water and educate them about the everyday things they can do to help,” said Eric Rose, the aquarium’s executive director. “When guests visit the aquarium, not only do they get to see amazing animals they also get learn about how to help the animals and the environment.”

EQC Chairman Steve Coleman presented the award to Rose, along with Paula the African penguin.

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“EQC is very proud to recognize the contributions of the Newport Aquarium in raising awareness on the importance of our water resources and getting citizens involved in environmental stewardship,” said Coleman.

Kentucky state Rep. Dennis Keene attended the ceremony in support of Newport Aquarium, the largest tourist attraction in his district in Campbell County.

EQC Award  - Dennis Keene, Alle Barber and Eric Rose

(L-R): Kentucky state Rep. Dennis Keene; WAVE Foundation at Newport Aquarium Program Conservation Manager Alle Barber (with Paula the penguin); Newport Aquarium Executive Director Eric Rose.

“I congratulate the Newport Aquarium for its outstanding efforts to educate its visitors on the importance of water quality and conservation efforts to improve the aquatic life in both ocean and fresh water environments,” said Rep. Keene. “This aquarium continues to evolve as both an entertaining tourist attraction and a valuable resource for education and enhanced understanding of our relationship to the world around us. I’m pleased the aquarium’s staff and administration is being recognized for their dedication and thank the Environmental Quality Commission for this opportunity to highlight these insightful educational programs.”

For more information on Newport Aquarium, visit NewportAquarium.com or call toll free 800-406-FISH (3474).

About the Environmental Quality Commission
EQC is a seven-member citizen advisory board created under Kentucky state law in 1972. Its mission is to facilitate public dialog on issues, monitor trends and conditions, promote partnerships to improve and protect the environment for future generations. EQC also advises state officials on environmental matters and promotes public awareness, responsibility and positive action toward a healthy environment.

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Newport Aquarium, voted the No. 1 aquarium in the country by USA Today’s 10Best.com in 2012, 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.

Find us on: Facebook.com/NewportAquarium | Twitter: @NewportAquarium

One Aquarium Way | Newport, KY 41071 | 859-261-7444
www.newportaquarium.com

Cincinnati Reds, Newport Aquarium team up for 2015

Top Tri-State attractions to offer exclusive penguin encounter, special promotions

Cincinnati Reds fans can see Paula the penguin at Great American Ball Park on April 12.

NEWPORT, Ky. — In time for Opening Day, Newport Aquarium and the Cincinnati Reds are teaming up to provide Reds Country with exclusive promotions, along with one very special animal encounter, throughout the 2015 baseball season.

This distinctive partnership will allow baseball fans and animal lovers of all ages to experience the thrills of two of Greater Cincinnati’s jewel attractions.

PaulaThePenguin_OnFieldWithBall

Paula the penguin will deliver the game ball at Great American Ball Park during pregame ceremonies on April 12.

Paula the Penguin Game Ball Delivery: Newport Aquarium’s Paula the penguin will deliver the game ball to the Great American Ball Park pitcher’s mound during pregame festivities prior to the Reds’ afternoon matchup against the St. Louis Cardinals on April 12, the first Sunday home game of the 2015 season. Following first pitch at 1:10 p.m., the famous African penguin will greet fans at the Kroger Fan Zone before participating in a Reds Heads Kids Club Q&A session at the Wiffle® ball field during the third inning.

Combo Ticket Nights: For select 2015 home games, a family of four can enjoy a trip to Newport Aquarium and a Cincinnati Reds game for as low as $100*. This combo includes a voucher for one general admission ticket to Newport Aquarium per each Reds game ticket. The combo is available for Reds home games on April 27, May 11, June 21, July 1, July 20, Aug. 4, Sept. 4 and Sept. 6. The Cincinnati Reds-Newport Aquarium combo ticket can be purchased online at reds.com/newportaquarium.

Keep Your Reds Ticket Stub and Save at Newport Aquarium and Ride the Ducks: Coupons for $2 off Newport Aquarium admission, and $9 off an Aquarium/Ride the Ducks Newport combo, can be found on the back all Cincinnati Reds home game ticket stubs during the 2015 season, including premium and season tickets (not applicable for tickets purchased and printed online).

Annual Passholder Appreciation Nights: Newport Aquarium Annual Passholders can purchase Cincinnati Reds tickets at exclusive pricing during Annual Passholder Appreciation Games, which are May 11, June 21, July 20 and Sept. 4. Passholders can purchase these discounted tickets at reds.com/napassholders.

Newport Aquarium/Ride the Ducks Newport at Opening Day Parade: Newport Aquarium and Ride the Ducks Newport will be entry No. 106 of 200 in the 96th Findlay Market Opening Day Parade on April 6. The parade is set to begin at noon near Findlay Market on Race Street in downtown Cincinnati. Newport Aquarium and Ride the Ducks Newport employees will be highly visible in a Cincinnati Reds-decorated Duck, an amphibious vehicle modeled after the famous World War II DUKW machine. Ride the Ducks Newport is scheduled to begin 2015 tours on April 10, weather permitting. Visit newportducks.com for the complete operating schedule.

For more information on Newport Aquarium, visit NewportAquarium.com or call toll free 800-406-FISH (3474).

(*Prices subject to change without notice)

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Newport Aquarium, voted the No. 1 aquarium in the country by USA Today’s 10Best.com in 2012, 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.

Find us on: Facebook.com/NewportAquarium | Twitter: @NewportAquarium

One Aquarium Way | Newport, KY 41071 | 859-261-7444
www.newportaquarium.com

Harlem Globetrotters Add Two Penguins to Roster for Dec. 27th Games in Cincinnati

 

CINCINNATI – Speckles and Paula – two female African penguins from Newport Aquarium – will serve as guest Harlem Globetrotters on Friday (Dec.27) during the legendary basketball franchise’s two games at US Bank Arena (2 p.m. and 7 p.m.).

During the first quarter of each game on Friday, Speckles and Paula will visit with their new Globetrotters teammates down on the court and will be presented with custom-made Globetrotters jerseys. The two penguins were selected among Newport Aquarium’s eight African black-footed penguins that went through a Dec. 6 basketball try out with Globetrotters stars Wun “The Shot” Versher and 7-foot-4 Stretch Middleton, the third tallest player in Globetrotters history.

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Harlem Globetrotters Wun “The Shot” Versher (left) and Stretch Middleton (right) with Newport Aquarium Animal Ambassador Ric Urban and Speckles from The Penguin House on Dec. 6, 2013.

Newport Aquarium’s African penguins have delighted tens of thousands of people over the years; from entertaining guests at the daily Penguin Parade, to hosting folks inside their backstage home The Penguin House for Penguin Encounters, where a portion of the sales are donated to penguin conservation programs.

Last year, the Globetrotters did something unparalleled in the history of sports and entertainment – allow fans to vote on new rules to be used in actual games. It was so much fun, they are doing it again, and there are cool new rules to choose from during their 2014 “Fans Rule” World Tour. The rules can be voted upon at www.harlemglobetrotters.com/rule.

Tickets for each game are available through www.ticketmaster.com and the US Bank Arena box office.

For more information on Newport Aquarium and its African penguins, visit www.newportaquarium.com.

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