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.
The aquarium also had the most stunning jellyfish display I’ve ever seen; a great seahorse exhibit (the aquarium has been heavily involved in seahorse captive breeding and conservation efforts); a Mississippi river display featuring paddlefish (I’ll freely admit that Chuck and I geeked out a little in the presence of these), , sturgeon, and gi-normous gar; and, of course, lots of sharks. It was a great end to a great conference.
For Chuck’s review, see here.
Disclaimer: The Minnesota Sea Life Aquarium provided Chuck and I with complimentary tickets and a complimentary behind the scenes tour. Thanks for a great morning!
It’s great to see an Aquarium concentrate on conservation and not just profits. A prime function of zoos and aquariums should be to educate and lead by example. I’m glad you ahd a great time and I plan of visiting the Minnesota Sea Life Aquarium the next time I am in Minnesota!
By the way, the Mandalay Bay Aquarium in Las Vegas had some interesting conservation displays on Sea Turtles.