President’s Blog: October 21, 2016
President's Blog

President’s Blog: October 21, 2016

Last Saturday’s 10th Annual Run/Walk for the Penguins was a…

Last Saturday’s 10th Annual Run/Walk for the Penguins was a fun morning! The event – first envisioned by Chief Scientist, Dr. Tracy Romano – raises funds to support our work protecting the African penguin. It has grown from a handful of participants to many hundred. This year, approximately 650 people gathered early Saturday morning – families, individuals, track clubs, professionals and hobbyists. Here are photos of the race overall winners, and our own Elana Deslandes-Murphy, Marketing Digital Content Manager, who came in third in her category. Congratulations to all!

2016 Penguin Run Winners          Elana with prize

Some run or walk for the cause, some for the competition. Aquarium employees get into the fun in every way possible, from running the registration and selling t-shirts to running in the race and even running as our mascot, Petey. Thank you to Lydia Shell who did an excellent job organizing and managing this year’s event, and to everyone who helped.

We have 34 African penguins in residence at Mystic Aquarium. They are part of the Species Survival Plan breeding program, and also help forge an important connection with our guests. Our colony helps engage the public, as does the Penguin Run/Walk. The funds raised by the event support our efforts to protect this endangered species in the wild. These efforts include hands-on participation in the species’ native land, South Africa.

African penguins on the exhibit beach                   Mystic Aquarium Staff at SANCCOB

Each year we send staff to South Africa to work with the South African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds. Later this year, trainer Eric Fox will be traveling there to represent Mystic Aquarium to assist in rearing abandoned chicks.


Finally home from her own long journey is Washburn, our guest manatee who was rehabilitated here after being rescued off of Chatham, Massachusetts a few weeks ago. Dr. Allison Tuttle, VP Biological Programs, provided the following briefing:

“She is the first ever manatee to come through our Animal Rescue Program! We are proud to have been selected to provide her care. Providing the intermediate critical care for this manatee, and all associated needs (press, outreach and education, facility, resource, etc.,) was a tremendous group accomplishment for our entire organization, with all departments pitching in to do their part to make her time at Mystic Aquarium a huge success.

This success belongs to all of us here at Mystic and is shared by our colleagues at the USFWS, who made the decision to rescue her and provided the oversight every step of the way, at IFAW, the organization that performed the rescue and land transports, the Groton Airport and Coast Guard, who provided for her safe flight to Florida, and SeaWorld, who will carry out the remainder of her rehabilitation. If all remains well, within a few weeks she’ll be released in her own native waters, and hopefully give birth to the next generation of this fascinating species”

     Team Washburn     vet team selfie

Rescued manatee


About a year ago, Trustee Dr. Deborah Kochevar, Dean of the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University, suggested the idea of a career seminar at Mystic Aquarium for high school students. I am pleased to announce that our first conference will be held on Saturday, November 19th from 9am to 2pm. The conference will feature interactive programs with Dr. Allison Tuttle, and Dr. Jennifer Flower, our chief veterinarian. I am sure they will inspire at least a few of the next generation of animal care specialists. If you know of anyone who would be interested, please click here to share the flyer.


My week was topped off by a visit to Washington, DC where I hosted a tour for Trustee Alex Marku, President’s Councilor Geraldine Tom and Alex’s family.

This trip was offered as an auction item at Ocean Commotion a few years ago. Alex was the winning bidder! We had the privilege of a private tour of the White House and the Capital Building, among other sites. I will not tell you the amount of his winning bid, but I can tell you that I enjoyed our time together and the opportunity to show them around the city.

Outside US Supreme Court    Supreme Court Chanber

Capitol Bldg early morning     VIP Guests w Toby Moffett

The true cost? Priceless. If you have a tinge of jealousy, just know that we will offer it again next year as an auction item.

See you all soon!



The Latest

Press Releases


Mystic, Conn. (February 12, 2019): Over the last few years,…

Research Spotlight: Celebrate World Whale Day With Conservation

By Dr. Laura Thompson, Mystic Aquarium Researcher Today, February 9,…
Press Releases


Mystic, Conn. (January 22, 2019): Mystic Aquarium recently announced that…