I haven't been to the Shedd in quite a few years but looking at it from the
perspective of someone who worked in a couple of zoos for several years, I
can unfortunately say that it sounds like the Shedd is in the same boat as
all other animal exhibiting organizations. Updating exhibits is expensive
in all phases including design, construction and maintenance. Labor costs
in zoos/aquariums are high. >>
It sounds to me that if a public aquarium wanted to move towards more native
exhibits, it would not be done overnight. All native fish lovers should make
it known that they would like to see more non-game native fishes so that it
gets in to the idea and then the planning stages. Perhaps color pictures of
area natives could be sent to the "powers that be" along with the request.
It should have a higher impact.
I imagine there are places on the net where native fish pictures could be
downloaded and printed to attach to requests.
Personally, I think darter and sculpin tanks along with paddlefish and
sturgeon tanks would be universally be very popular exhibits. And with the
growing interest in ponds, any public aquarium with the room is missing the
boat not having ponds with native plants and fish. The public loves it.
A good example would be the Indiana State Fair. The indoor concrete fish
tanks and ponds outside the DNR building are always packed with visitors and
I am partially guessing are one of the most popular exhibits at the fair.
The waters area with steams and pools and native plants is increasingly
popular, too, even though it has been around for just about 10 years. I
could probably come up with official traffic count estimates. The impact of
high numbers of visitors might also impress planners.
Idea: NANFA might consider coming up with a persuasive, well thought out
letter that could be used by individuals and organizations as a template to
send to local aquariums. Accurate, verifiable statistics of the popularity
of natives should also be included. Information on why non-game aquatic life
as well as game fish is important might help, otherwise they might lean
towards just setting up another bass and sunfish tank, though those would be
great too. The basic letter could be at our website for anyone to use and
links to sources of pictures of local natives could be included.
We'll need someone with better writing and persuasive skills than I have,
though I will be glad to help out.
Indianapolis, Indiana USA
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