After the recent American Elasmobranch Society conference in Minneapolis, Chuck and I hit the Mall of America and the Minnesota Sea Life Aquarium. I was impressed with the quality of the exhibits, their focus on education and conservation, and with the creative use of space (the aquarium is essentially underneath the Mall).
The Minnesota Sea Life Aquarium is a great example of how zoos and aquarium can help promote conservation- Minneapolis is pretty darn far from an ocean, and this facility gives the public a chance to see and learn about some amazing sea creatures. On our behind the scenes tour, the guide showed some shark fins and sea turtle shells that had been confiscated by customs officers and donated for educational purposes. She explained a variety of threats facing our oceans, and how people could help even from somewhere as far from the sea as Minnesota. Additionally, most exhibit signage included the IUCN Red List status of their animals and brief descriptions of what the main threats facing the animals were. I’ve rarely seen a zoo or aquarium have more conservation information on their signs.