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Thanks for Making 2012 an Amazing Year!

At this special time of year, the National Aquarium is grateful for so many things—for our talented staff, for our dedicated volunteers, the generosity of our loyal supporters. By making a personal commitment to the National Aquarium, you make it possible for us to inspire conservation of the world’s aquatic treasures every day.

Please enjoy this video as we look back at our accomplishments in 2012 here at the Aquarium.

Every year, more than 1.5 million people are inspired to conserve the world’s aquatic treasures by participating in conservation and educational programming and enjoying our world-class exhibits in both Washington, DC and Baltimore, MD.

Volunteers of all ages came out to support our conservation department's annual dolphin count in Ocean City this year!

Volunteers of all ages came out to support our conservation department’s annual dolphin count in Ocean City this year!

As a 501(c)(3) nonprofit institution, we depend upon the support of individuals, foundations, and corporations to provide engaging experiences that excite young people about aquatic life and habitats; welcome diverse audiences from throughout the community; restore fragile Chesapeake Bay wetlands; and rescue, rehabilitate, and release imperiled marine animals.

Your support has been critical to the continued work of our MARP team to rescue and rehabilitate turtles, including this loggerhead hatchling!

Your support this year helped our MARP team rescue and rehabilitate many turtles, including this loggerhead hatchling!

From our family in DC and Baltimore, thanks for helping to make 2012 an amazing year! We can’t wait to see what 2013 brings! Donations made to our institution are tax-deductible and can be made in a variety of ways. Want to help support a specific initiative or program? Check out our teams’ wishlists.

Happy National Monkey Day!

tamarins

Shout it from the roof tops, today we celebrate monkeys!

Today, we’re celebrating National Monkey Day! We wanted to take this opportunity to share a little bit about the golden lion tamarins we have roaming in our Upland Tropical Rain Forest exhibit!

Tamarins, also known as golden marmosets, are a tree-dwelling monkey that can be easy spotted by their vibrant golden color and lion-like mane. They have extremely long toes and claws that help them grab onto tree branches, navigate through the forest canopies and dig for insects and treats in the tree bark.

Tamarins have a very interesting social structure. They live in monogamous family units consisting of a breeding pair,  offspring and often extended family members. The entire family group has equal parts in helping to rear any young. Interestingly, twins are the norm for tamarin births!

baby tamarin

Baby tamarins spend very little time away from their big family groups!

Native to the coastal rain forests of Brazil, this species is being threatened by deforestation and habitat loss. They were listed as an endangered species in 1982. Following this unfortunate discovery, many organizations, like the Smithsonian’s National Zoo, have worked on the Gold Lion Tamarin Conservation Program, aiming prevent extinction and to reintroduce tamarins back into their natural habitats. For many years, National Aquarium has participated in this program to help promote awareness of these amazing animals and their much-needed protection!

So – want the chance to go behind-the-scenes in our rain forest and meet our tamarins? 

We are giving one lucky winner of our Amazing Experiences Sweepstakes the opportunity to work side-by-side with our rain forest staff for a morning.

Go behind-the-scenes and learn what it takes to care for the diverse animals and plants that call the Upland Tropical Rain Forest their home. Your morning in the rain forest will include a meeting with our family of tamarin monkeys. They are real characters!

There are five great ways to be entered to win our sweepstakes! 

Click here to find out all the details about our Amazing Experiences Sweepstakes!

Stay tuned for more features on our once-in-a-lifetime sweepstakes prizes! Winners will be announced on our Facebook page starting December 17!

Thoughtful Thursdays: Banner Bags!

Being conservation-minded individuals, Aquarium staff are very reluctant to throw anything away.

So over time, many of the creative ways we have found to reuse or recycle have come from a staff member taking the initiative to say, “My department uses a lot of this item. Is there something we can do with it besides throw it away?”

When the marine mammal trainers got new wetsuits, they contacted our Internal Conservation Committee (ICC), asking to help save the old ones from the dumpster. After a bit of research, the team decided to make drink cozies out of them. As a result of that project, 53 wetsuits became 575 bottle cozies, which were sold in our gift shop. In turn, we kept 92 pounds of neoprene out of landfills!

This year, another project came up in a similar way. Our annual marketing campaigns include printed vinyl banners that line the city and adorn our buildings. After every campaign has ended, the banners are pulled down and put in storage.

This is just one of the many old campaign banners we transformed!

This is just one of the many old campaign banners we transformed!

Recently, employees were cleaning out the warehouse when they came across stacks of banners going back many years. Once again, a diligent employee called the ICC for ideas. The colorful graphics and vinyl material inspired us to create something even bigger, tote bags!

Banner bags

It took a while to find the right vendor, but eventually a former Aquarium employee (and former ICC chair!) mentioned that her sister-in-law had found success in her hometown of Indianapolis upcycling old material into tote bags and selling them at farmers markets. Her name is Jen Eiler.

She has worked with many organizations including museums, markets, coffee houses (burlap coffee bean bags!) and even the Super Bowl to do just what we were looking to do with their old marketing materials!

Banner bags

Thus, our “banner bags” were born. We’re very excited to be able to offer these great totes to the public! If you’re looking for a great gift for your eco-conscious friends and family, we’ve got you covered.

To grab a banner bag, make sure to stop by our gift shop during your next visit!  

Thoughtful Thursdays: DIY Green Holiday Decorations

From the mesmerizing experience of watching “Polar Express” in 4D to staff celebrations and special holiday enrichment activities for the animals, the holiday season is always an exciting time for us at National Aquarium.

Part of that excitement includes decorating! As part of our conservation mission, we are always on the look out for ways to use recycled and eco-friendly materials to create one-of-a-kind holiday decorations!

We’ve included the steps for some of our DIY favorites below:

Recycled Magazine Holiday Tree 

Materials: 

Old magazines
Glue (optional)
Glitter (optional)

Directions: 

  1. Fold the page of the magazine down to create a triangular crease

  2. Fold the triangle down again and then fold the tip of that page up so that it’s even with the bottom of the magazine
  3. Repeat steps 1 and 2 until every page of the magazine is folded in
  4. If desired, use glue and glitter to decorate your magazine trees!

Paper Bows

Materials: 

Recycled paper (printer paper and old magazine/newspaper works best)
Double-sided tape
Stapler

Directions: 

  1. Cut your paper into eight approximately one-inch wide strips (leaving one to the side)
  2. Loop the top half of the strip and secure to the middle of the strip with tape, loop the bottom half of the strip so to complete the “figure eight” shape
  3. Repeat step two for the remainder your strips
  4. Arrange the “figure eights” into a bow shape and secure together with a stapler.
  5. Loop the final strip (set aside earlier) and tape it in the center of the bow to cover the staple

3D Paper Snowflake 

Materials: 

Recycled paper cut into six squares (again printer paper and old magazine/newspaper work best)
Scissors
Tape
Stapler
Old ribbon or string (optional, for hanging)

Directions: 

  1. Gather your six square sheets of paper and fold each diagonally into a triangle
  2. Cut three lines in the triangle by positioning the scissors along the bottom fold, these cuts should be parallel to the top edges of the triangle and should leave some distance in the middle of the triangle (do not cut the paper all the way through)
  3. Once you’ve cut lines into each piece of paper, unfold them so that one of the points of the square faces you
  4. Roll the first two innermost paper lines together to form a tube. Place these two pieces together. You should see triangle shapes on either side of the role
  5. Turn the diamond over, take the next two paper lines and pull them together on the opposite side of the tube and tape together as before. This will be a more rounded shape than the first tube.
  6. Completing that pattern, join all the paper lines together on alternating sides until every “arm” of the snowflake has been completed
  7. Staple together the tops of three of the completed snowflake “arms”
  8. Staple the other three tops together
  9. Join the two halves of the snowflake by stapling together the tops of the snowflake
  10. Staple together where the “arms” of the snowflake meet each other, ensuring that the snowflake shape will stay in place
  11. If desired, loop a piece of ribbon or string through one of the snowflake “arms” and hang your snowflakes on doors, banners or windows!

Want to learn some other exciting eco-friendly holiday crafts? Join us for our holiday events, including our World Holiday Traditions celebration next Friday, December 7. We’ll be using recycled holiday cards to make notes to send to service members! 

Do you have a favorite eco-friendly holiday craft or decoration? Share them with us in the comments! 

From our family—scaly, finned, furry, and feathered—to yours, Happy Thanksgiving!

We have tons to be thankful for this year…From safely making it through Hurricane Sandy, to the many dedicated staff and volunteers who care for our animals and guests every day, and the millions of visitors who make connections with the aquatic world each year.

We are incredibly grateful to our members and the many donors who have helped us continue to achieve our mission to inspire conservation of the world’s aquatic treasures, and the excitement coming in 2013 with the opening of Blacktip Reef. We thank everyone who has made a personal commitment to conserve and protect our blue planet, and for the essential and critical work being done by our conservation team and the volunteers that support them.

In the spirit of the holiday, we asked some of our staff in Washington, DC and Baltimore what they are giving thanks for this year: 

Liz on-set with one of our budding TV stars!

Liz Evans, Manager of  Animal Training

“I am thankful to be able to look out my office window and see waterfowl enjoying the floating wetlands. I am also thankful to be a new homeowner and looking forward to BayScaping my new yard with native plants!”

Brian Weiner, Email, Online Media & Web Development Specialist

“This year I am thankful for my health, wealth, friends, and family. I am also very thankful for my Grandmother’s homemade stuffing. It has changed my life.”

Emma held onto a baby gator during a taping with NBC Universal

Emma Connor, Marketing Manager for National Aquarium, Washington, DC

“I’m so thankful for the opportunity to learn about and interact with animals on a regular basis. I think it’s safe to say that not many marketing gigs have that added perk! While I really marketing all of the wonderful and unique species that live at our Washington, DC, venue, it can also be a welcome change to spend some quality time with a critter after talking budget and attendance all day!”

Beth Scnheble, Aquarist

“I am extremely thankful to work with such amazing and fascinating animals that inspire me not only to work harder to provide them the best care I can, but also spread the word to our guests about their conservation and how important it is to ensure we as a society are doing what we can to preserve these incredible creatures for generations to come.”

Andrew Pulver, Animal Care Center and Marine Operations Manager

“Healthy animals and fabulous co-workers!”

Deb hanging out with one of our golden lion tamarins.

Debra Dial, Senior Aviculturist

“I am thankful to enjoy warm, flower-blooming, shorts-wearing, rain forest weather year-round! I am also grateful for this year’s bird hatchings and the knowledge that we have gained from each.”

Scott Barr, Consignment Sales Coordinator

“This year, I am thankful for the National Aquarium’s conservation paid time off!  It’s great to be part of an organization leading the conservation charge by spreading the message and actually taking

Scott used his conservation day to help rehab at Indian Head!

action.  As a lifelong Maryland resident, I know the importance of the Chesapeake Bay and the need to improve its health.  It’s rewarding to work within an organization that does more than just talk about the problems; spending a day outside planting bay grasses or repairing sand dunes is just plain fun, and the value to the bay makes it a worthwhile endeavor – getting paid while doing it is a windfall!”

John Seyjaget, Curator of Animal Planet Australia: Wild Extremes

 “We are thankful for baby ackies, star finches and gouldian  finches hatched this year!!! And of course our knob tailed geckos!”

Jenny Hamilton, Chair of Internal Conservation Committee

“I am thankful for my husband, my family, and my friends more than anything; they are my true source of joy. I am thankful for my coworkers; they are really, really good big-hearted people who relentlessly try to inspire others to care about the greater good. I am thankful for cranberry bread and changing leaves and walks with my dog.

And, for this kid:

I’m thankful there are other recycling weirdos out there. Together, we will keep our world clean! Polluters Beware!

Again, from our family—scaly, finned, furry, and feathered—to yours, Happy Thanksgiving! 


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