Georgia Aquarium and Tennessee Aquarium
Last week I was in Atlanta to visit with the CEO of Georgia Aquarium, Mike Levin. Our organizations are both cetacean holding institutions and this was my first opportunity to meet with Mike who became Chairman and CEO approximately one year ago, after a productive career in hospitality, including Chief Operating Officer of Las Vegas Sands Corporation.
We collaborate with Georgia Aquarium on many levels, most notably on matters related to the Beluga Whale population under human care in the United States. We also have research collaborations and we share information on marketing, public relations, and education as well.
Then I was at Tennessee Aquarium where I met with their new CEO, Keith Sampson. Tennessee Aquarium is a similar size to Mystic Aquarium in visitation and is engaged in tremendous conservation efforts along the Tennessee River.
These discussions are helpful learning opportunities, as well as good ways to build Mystic Aquarium’s relationship within the zoo and aquarium world. Sometimes we call upon various other institutions to assist us, and it is good to know the people in advance of those calls. We look forward to strong collaborative partnerships with both Georgia Aquarium and Tennessee Aquarium especially within the animal husbandry, research and conservation arenas.
Recent Issues in our Nation
During my visit to Atlanta, I visited the Center for Civil and Human Rights adjacent to the Georgia Aquarium. The museum galleries are primarily focused on the quest for civil rights in the United States and especially in the City of Atlanta.
One of the exhibits struck me as being very apropos in the midst of recent challenges in our nation. The exhibit focused on Martin Luther King’s acceptance of the 1964 Nobel Peace Prize and his speeches and actions around receiving that award.
A group of Atlanta leaders including the Mayor, a prominent Rabbi, the Catholic Archbishop and several corporate CEO’s attempted to organize a hometown tribute to Dr. King upon his return to Atlanta after receiving the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo, Norway. He had received tremendous welcome in Oslo, and then in New York City before heading back to Atlanta.
The response in Atlanta to an event for Dr. King was tepid. Tickets for a gala dinner were not selling. The majority community in the city was weary of embracing Dr. King and his message. Sensing embarrassment for the City and his company, the Chief Executive Officer of Coca Cola threatened to move Coca-Cola headquarters from Atlanta if the community did not support the tribute to Dr. King.
The dinner took place and Dr. King delivered a speech that praised Atlanta for its tremendous progress on civil rights, progress that was in many ways far advanced in comparison to other cities and states in the United States. In fact, the slogan of the City of Atlanta at the time was “Atlanta: A City Too Busy to Hate”.
Dr. King also challenged Atlanta and the nation to move more rapidly towards ending racism and segregation. He closed his speech with the following which is timely for us to consider in 2017:
“…I still believe that we shall overcome! We still have a long, long way to go but we can take consolation from the fact that as a region and a people we have made some meaningful strides. In the words of the old Negro slave preacher that were uttered in the form of a prayer:
Lord, we ain’t what we ought to be;
We ain’t what we want to be;
We ain’t what we gonna be;
But thank God, we ain’t what we was.
The Solar Eclipse
On Monday several members of our community gathered outside to observe the solar eclipse. Senior Vice President of Zoological Operations, Larry Rivarde, who also heads our diversity and inclusion initiatives, commented on the timing of the solar eclipse, noting that it was something that brought our nation together in a shared experience.
The eclipse was beautiful. Thanks to Dawn Holman and Dr. Allison Tuttle for letting me and my son, Volunteer Brendan Coan, borrow their special glasses for a peak.
In case you missed it, here is some video footage of the solar eclipse taken in Idaho for live coverage on NASA TV:
Chief Scientist Dr. Tracy Romano
Special congratulations to Chief Scientist, Dr. Tracy Romano who recently served as a reviewer for Institute of Museum and Library Services proposals for funding. She has also been appointed to serve as reviewer for proposals for funding at the National Science Foundation. These are both prestigious appointments and extremely time consuming. I appreciate her commitment to undertaking these roles. Also, students in her undergraduate class at the University of Connecticut rated her as an “excellent” professor, something that all of us at Mystic Aquarium have known for many years!
American Humane Campaign for Zoos and Aquariums
Mystic Aquarium is a partner with American Humane in developing a certification program for zoos and aquariums. The American Humane certification is achieved after an institution undertakes, and passes, an extensive audit related to various animal welfare criteria, including the health of animals under care, their housing, food sources, grouping with other animals for socialization, air quality, medical care and safety among other criteria.
We value our accreditation from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, the Alliance of Marine Mammal Parks and Aquariums, regular inspections by federal and state authorities, and now our certification from American Humane, achieved in 2016, among the first institutions in the nation to be so recognized.
The following are links to some recent videos produced by American Humane on behalf of zoos and aquariums in the United States:
See you all soon!
Stevi Bramich | September 21st, 2017