Traveling aquarium educates communities about aquatic life and conservation –
By Patricia Beech –
Photos by Mark Carpenter –
There was no Caped Crusader and no Boy Wonder, but the Penguin was in town on Tuesday, June 27 compliments of the Wave Foundation, a non-profit organization that partners with the Newport Aquarium to share the wonders of aquatic life through its Wave on Wheels traveling aquarium.
Nearly 150 children and their caregivers packed the West Union Library for a chance to see and pet “Randi the Penguin” from the aquarium.
“Our goal is to educate the public about marine animals and the importance of conservation to preserving their habitats,” said Marine Biologist and Wave on Wheels employee Nicholas Calrahan, who spoke to the crowd about every aspect of a penguin’s life. “We educate people so they will learn to love animals, because if they love the animals they’ll be more likely to protect them.”
Calrahan explained that penguins in the wild generally live only 10 to15 years because of predators, sickness, and injury.
“At the aquarium, we keep a very close eye on them, and we take very good care of them,” he said. “Our penguins usually double their life expectancy, living 25 to 30 years or beyond.”
Calrahan said the oldest aquarium penguin recently died in Colorado at the age of 51.
Kiersten and Alexa Rowe attended the event with their grandmother, Ursula Shiveley. “Penguins are my favorite animals,” said Kiersten. “I’ve always liked them and collected them to decorate my room.”
Her sister, twelve-year-old Alexa, called the event a “once in a lifetime opportunity”. “I like penguins too, and I’m really excited about petting one.”
Karen Young of West Union attended with her triplet granddaughters, Stella, Emma, and Eden, and their younger sister Ezra Seitz. “We come to the library every week for story time, and we came today because it’s a great opportunity for the girls to see and pet a live penguin.”
“Randi” also made an appearance at the Manchester Library earlier on Tuesday and if you missed her the first time around, she will be back in Adams County later this month, with appearances scheduled on July 18 at 10 a.m. at the North Adams Library and that same day at 1 p.m. at the Peebles Library.