The Aquarium Project is charging full speed ahead! The Zoo’s board of directors recently laid eyes on the initial plan for the aquarium and conservation center for the first time, giving us clearance to move forward with that concept.
Last week, we held our first two community input sessions, where we invited specialists representing a variety of audiences and industries to the Nyami Nyami River Lodge at the Zoo.
On Tuesday afternoon, local educational and hospitality professionals gathered together to give their input, and on Wednesday afternoon, experts from the space, technology and conservation sectors did the same.
The Zoo’s executive director, Keith Winsten, began both meetings by revealing the aquarium and conservation center’s general layout and signature experiences. Winsten then prompted the groups with a challenge: help us ensure that this facility serves diverse segments of the community effectively and that we are telling the right stories.
The audience was broken into groups and asked to figure out what that the plan was missing as well as identify proposed concepts that may not work effectively. Ideas included an environmental DNA lab, sensory areas, open seawater systems for researchers, rooftop gardens and fish hatcheries among many, many others.
After the breakout sessions, the groups reconvened to share their thoughts, which allowed for open and exciting discussions. We walked away from the meeting with dozens of ideas that will improve the design, utility, accessibility and inclusivity of the aquarium and conservation center.