Seals at the New England Aquarium will have a new home next summer as construction has begun on a new marine mammal exhibit on the harbor-side of the Aquarium in downtown Boston.
The innovative, new space will be called the New Balance Foundation Marine Mammal Center in honor of a lead gift of over $3 million from the Boston-based foundation which has a strong focus on children. The grand opening is scheduled for next summer so as to coincide with and celebrate the Aquarium’s 40th anniversary.
As the Aquarium’s newest signature exhibit, the New Balance Foundation Marine Mammal Center is designed to provide up-close visitor interaction with at least two species from the pinniped family. That includes seals and sea lions. The exhibit will most likely open with northern fur seals and will later include California sea lions. The open air but covered exhibit space will feature shallow pools and large decks where Aquarium visitors will be able to meet these impressive and very popular animals face to face. Young visitors will learn how the Aquarium’s marine mammal trainers help keep the seals and sea lions healthy through exercise, a sound diet, play and good hygiene, including brushing their teeth.
Engaging children and motivating them to become and stay fit is also one of the principal goals of the new exhibit. Ongoing programs called the New Balance Foundation “Get Your Feet Wet” programs will promote childhood fitness and activity by connecting kids to some of the most charismatic and athletic animals in the natural world.
“The New Balance Foundation is committed to encouraging childhood fitness and activity, and there is no better way to connect children to nature and the outdoors than through animals,” said Anne Davis, Managing Trustee of the New Balance Foundation. “Our partnership with the New England Aquarium through the new marine mammal center will help kids get moving and active through exposure to some of the most engaging sea creatures on the planet.”
The ten month construction project is confined to the back of the Aquarium and will have no impact on visitors’ experiences during that time. Along with the construction of the marine mammal center, the entire harbor-side plaza is being rebuilt. The publicly accessible Harborwalk on Central Wharf’s perimeter will be elevated and resurfaced. Several small utility buildings have been relocated to open up the public space and create great new views of Boston Harbor. Pedestrians will also be able to peek into the marine mammal exhibit through the glass walls that will surround the new center.
Aquarium President Bud Ris noted, “The New Balance Foundation Marine Mammal Center is an exciting and strong next step in the implementation of the Aquarium’s strategic action plan. We are rebuilding the Aquarium. This past winter, we completely renovated our spectacular penguin exhibit, and the new marine mammal center will provide visitors a unique and meaningful experience. Visionary community partners like the New Balance Foundation have been instrumental in helping us shape the next generations of healthy kids and a healthy planet.”
About the New Balance Foundation
The New Balance Foundation is a charitable foundation established in 1981 and funded by New Balance Athletic Shoe, Inc. The Foundation’s mission is to support effective charitable organizations which perform humanitarian services for the betterment of our children and our local community.
About the New England Aquarium
Located on the Boston waterfront, the New England Aquarium is one of the most prominent and popular aquariums in the United States. Hosting more than 1.3 million visitors each year, the Aquarium is a leading ocean conservation organization with research scientists working around the globe yet is also a major public education resource in New England.
New England Aquarium - Tony LaCasse, 617-877-6871
New Balance Foundation - Amy Vreeland, 617-746-2214