$1 million more needed for aquarium remodeling

Posted at 4:49 PM, Sep 10, 2015
and last updated 2015-09-10 16:49:32-04

The Aquarium of Niagara will be holding a fundraiser Thursday night, with the goal of getting closer to the $1 million still needed to build a new penguin exhibit.

Seven Humboldt penguins are some of the attraction’s most popular animals. The aquarium now wants to build a brand new penguin exhibit on the first floor.

The new exhibit would not only ensure the future of the penguins remaining at the exhibit, but also provide the possibility of getting nearly 20 more down the road. The plan includes a 15,000 gallon, four-foot deep pool with above and below water viewing and terraced rock ledges. It would quadruple the space the penguins now live in.

As a result of humans and El Nino patterns, animal experts say Humboldt penguins are a threatened species in the wildlife. Experts says that’s why preserving them at aquariums and zoos has become so important.

Remodeling plans at the Aquarium of Niagara would also turn the current penguin exhibit into an interactive classroom. Children will have the chance to see animals one on one and be able to interact with scientists and schools all over the world.

Several other exhibits are being refurbished and temporarily moved to make room for construction.

Work has already begun to get ready to move some wildlife to temporary tanks. “We are refurbishing two 10,000 gallon tanks,” explained Gay Molnar, the Executive Director of the Aquarium of Niagara. “One of these tanks will be for our Lake Ontario species. The other will be where the sharks will go.”

However, the fundraising effort is now reaching a critical point. The Aquarium of Niagara has raised a little more than $2.2 million out of the $3.2 million needed.

“We need $1 million to break ground for our new exhibit,” explained Michele Patterson, the Assistant Supervisor of Exhibits. “Without that, we can’t keep penguins here in WNY. So it’s very important to have the community that loves our birds and loves our exhibits come out and support us."

The Winds Waves and Wines fundraiser event starts at 6p.m. at the Conference and Convention Center at 101 Old Falls Street in Niagara Falls. Tickets are $75 a person or $130 a pair. Ticket prices will increase at the door.

The event includes live music, a mega raffle and a silent auction with a chance to win a wine tour in South Africa.

7 Eyewitness News Chief Meteorologist Aaron Mentkowski will be emceeing the event.

Construction is is expected to begin in late fall.




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