The Oregon Coast Aquarium is raising $18.2 million for a Capital Campaign to remodel facilities, enhance the learning experience and build a marine rehabilitation center.
The Capital Campaign includes five main projects: a marine rehabilitation center, a children’s nature play area, a renovation of the Aquarium’s entryway and grand hall, a remodel of three indoor galleries and an enhancement of educational programming.
The Aquarium has welcomed 15 million visitors through its doors since 1992, providing people of all ages and backgrounds with a living classroom and a connection to the Oregon coast. But the facility and its programming has not had a major remodel since it’s opening.
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“When the Aquarium opened more than twenty-five years ago, it was never built to see the number of people that come through our doors,” said Oregon Coast Aquarium President and CEO, Carrie Lewis. “We welcome more than 420,000 guests each year, and attendance is growing. It’s time to update our exhibits. It’s time to improve the visitor experience. It’s time to provide a true facility for the animal rehabilitation that we do behind the scenes.”
In addition to necessary remodels and renovation, the Aquarium will expand with the construction of a Children’s nature play area and a state-of-the-art, behind-the-scenes veterinary facility for marine wildlife rehabilitation and resident animal medical care.
“As we grow toward our vision of serving as a trusted resource for ocean education and conservation in the Pacific Northwest, it is more important than ever that our facility reflects that,” said Lewis.
The Oregon Coast Aquarium is one of three facilities in the Pacific Northwest, and the only in the state of Oregon, authorized to provide critical care to endangered marine wildlife, like sea turtles, northern fur seals and snowy plovers. But unfortunately, the Aquarium only has one building—an old, repurposed warehouse—to do this work.
“The building is quite old and was originally built for retail storage, so we are working to do emergency triage and procedures within a building that is not suited for animal medical care,” said Evonne Mochon-Collura, Curator of Fish and Invertebrates at the Aquarium. “Over the last ten years, we have seen an increasing number of stranded sea turtles. We have had to redirect some of those animals to other places. If we had a larger building that we could devote to rehabilitation, we could actually increase our ability to accept wildlife that is sick or injured and provide care on a much greater scale.”
The marine rehabilitation center will also provide a necessary space for resident animal veterinary procedures and increase capacity for expanded research and learning opportunities with students and partner organizations, including NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service, Oregon State University, Oregon Coast Community College, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, the United States Department of Fish and Wildlife and the International Veterinary Association.
The annual economic impact of the Oregon Coast Aquarium in Oregon is more than $100 million, and the 501(c)3 non-profit organization supports 125 staff and 400 volunteers. An accredited Association of Zoos & Aquariums institution, the Aquarium is consistently ranked as one of the top 10 aquariums in the U.S.
“The Oregon Coast Aquarium is truly a jewel in the state of Oregon,” said Lewis. “This Capital Campaign is so important for our future. Our reach right now is considerable, but when this campaign is complete, we’re going to reach even more. We invite you to join us in continuing the Aquarium’s mission for generations to come.”