written by Hassan Travis-Frank

The Aquarium of Niagara is a non-profit aquarium that supports conservation and aquatic life. The aquarium’s mission is to connect people to aquatic life, and to conserve species that are threatened or endangered. The aquarium is home to rescued marine mammals, including Humboldt penguins that hatched at the aquarium or transferred from another zoo or aquarium, and it is home to some threatened and endangered aquatic wildlife, which can then have all the care from trainers and aquarists for the rest of their lives. Educator of the Aquarium of Niagara, Autumn Syracuse explains, “Our mission is to connect people to aquatic life, and hopefully to think about conserving aquatic species. We also serve as a place for rescued animals to get cared for the rest of their lives.”

Guests who visit the aquarium will connect with animals that called the aquarium home. The Aquarium of Niagara will hopefully conserve endangered wildlife in their aquatic environment. The aquarium also supports conservation objectives to conserve endangered aquatic wildlife. It has two programs that will help the lake sturgeon and the Humboldt penguin. “We do have those two programs with the lake sturgeon and the penguins. We do have a conservation committee here at the aquarium as well. The committee let’s people know about the conservation of different species at the aquarium, and explains how people can help them,” said Autumn Syracuse. The aquarium’s goal, as part of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Sturgeon Restoration Program, is to reintroduce lake sturgeon back into their natural environment. Lake sturgeon are a threatened species due to pollution, climate change, eggs being turned into caviar, and invasive species.

The aquarium’s second goal is to have Humboldt penguin chicks hatched at the aquarium, which is part of the species survival plan. Humboldt penguins are native to Chile and Peru from South America, and they’re not cold weathered penguins, but a warm weathered species of penguin. These flightless birds are vulnerable due to overfishing, and guano being used as fertilizers by humans. In April 2020, the Aquarium of Niagara has two newly hatched Humboldt penguin chicks. The two chicks were named Jules and Smitty, and their penguin parents are Blanca and PJ. The successful achievements that the Aquarium of Niagara has done is building the new penguin exhibit, Penguin Coast, getting accreditation from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), and having successfully hatched Humboldt penguin chicks at the aquarium. “Probably some of our biggest achievements was building Penguin Coast, getting our AZA accreditation, and now successfully having chicks hatched at the aquarium,” said Autumn Syracuse.

Another achievement the aquarium has done is having the rescued marine mammals at the aquarium. The seals and sea lions have required all the care they need from their trainers by husbandry behaviors and feeding their specific food diet. “So definitely having the rescued marine mammals here is a big thing. We get lots of attention from people in other zoos and aquariums about all the care they’ve received here, and with all of our expansions that we’ve made our improvements to the aquarium, and everything that we have planned for future expansions” Autumn Syracuse explains. The Aquarium of Niagara has done a fantastic job of doing their job to conserve wildlife, reintroduce threatened species, caring rescued animals, and educating guests about the conservation of sea creatures. The Aquarium of Niagara is full of discovery, connection, and adventure. It’s a fun-loving adventurous underwater zoo where you can bring your family, and make friends with beautiful aquatic animals.

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