Welcome to Our Blog
The Living Planet Aquarium inspires people to explore, discover and learn about Earth’s diverse ecosystems. We are dedicated to cultivating public interest in the environment, conservation, and the enhancement of our planet and its creatures through adoption, education, research and recreation.
Join us while on our blog where we explore the Earth’s many inhabitants- some of which reside at The Living Planet Aquarium and some that don’t- but all of which are important to our ecosystem.
The Living Planet Aquarium is a tax-exempt 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, dedicated to inspiring people to explore, discover and learn about Earth’s diverse ecosystems.
- Created on Saturday, 27 July 2013 17:09
Mickey waves to his audience.
With the multitudes of critters you can see at The Living Planet Aquarium, it's hard to believe that there are even more animals being cared for behind the scenes. Those who participate in the aquarium's Penguin Encounter program are brought into a quiet back area and introduced to a group of birds with a special mission. Dusty the African Gray Parrot, Mickey the Eclectus Parrot, and Mingo the Blue and Gold Macaw are trained specifically to take part in the aquarium's Rainforest Van program.
Mingo shows off his wingspan.
Education staff and a selection of birds travel in the Rainforest Van three times per week to second and third grade classes in the Wasatch area. Using rainforests as the theme, the programs cover elements of the required curriculum for each grade. For second graders, the subjects of the lesson are weather and food chains, while third graders learn about the layers of the rainforest and the difference between living and nonliving things.
For both, the program begins with a map lesson to show the students where rainforests are located. Hands-on, interactive activities engage them in learning about the main concepts. At the end, the birds make their appearance, to the delight of the students. The birds are trained to display natural behaviors, such as extending their wings, hanging upside down, and cracking open nuts. Dusty is particularly good at demonstrating a bird's ability to mimic. The students especially love it when he makes sounds like a UFO.
Last year, the Rainforest Van introduced 9,745 students from 106 different schools to the wonder of the rainforest and some of its most charismatic inhabitants. And the birds? They enjoy the program almost as much as the students, being lavished with attention and having a chance to show off their abilities to an adoring audience.
- Created on Saturday, 27 July 2013 17:03
The newest addition to The Living Planet Aquarium is the North American River Otter exhibit. These playful and curious creatures are so captivating that you may not pay much attention to their carefully-designed habitat. Two months and much thought and creativity went into building the perfect home for the otters.
Aquarium staff used many resources of information to help them with this huge task. The Association of Zoos and Aquariums sets standards for animal welfare and management, including very specific and detailed information about how exhibits should be designed for different animal species. Utilizing these guidelines along with examples from other aquariums and organizations that have river otters, the staff designed a safe, appealing, and engaging habitat.
To make sure the otters felt at home, the exhibit was designed with natural otter habitat and behavior, as well as their safety, in mind. The exhibit has about a three-to-one ratio of land to water, a good mixture for otters. Since otters love to swim, a variety of water areas were provided, including a stream, two pools of different sizes, and a log slide. To prevent standing water, which can harbor bacteria, all water areas are filtered and the entire exhibit slopes downward toward a floor drain. Rocks, made of Styrofoam and concrete, provide places for the otters to climb. Real logs, leaves, bark, and river rocks are plentiful in the exhibit, natural touches that help make this truly a home for the otters.
A major consideration when designing the exhibit was how to make it guest-friendly. The largest pool and the stream were placed next to the viewing windows in the hopes that the otters would show off their water play to visitors. A pop-up window provides visitors with an up-close-and-personal experience, and the otters don't seem to mind. In fact, they've claimed that area as a favorite place to snooze.
The otters are settling in to their new home very well. They've explored every area, climbing all over the rocks and swimming in every pool. They love to sleep in the piles of bark and leaves. The only thing they have not yet mastered is the log slide. The otters will walk up and down the log, but haven't quite figured out what it's designed for. The staff is hopeful that one day they will. In the meantime, the otters have found many other ways to entertain themselves and visitors in their new home at the aquarium.
Photo courtesy of Long Island Aquarium & Exhibit Center, Riverhead, NY
The river otter exhibit is made possible by
- Created on Saturday, 27 July 2013 16:52
Behind the scenes at the Living Planet Aquarium, the husbandry staff have been hard at work “bucket training” the Giant Pacific Octopus. Bucket training is the process by which they teach the octopus to enter a special bucket for transport between her holding tank, where she lives while she's not on display, and her exhibit tank. The purpose of this training is to make the transition less stressful. Once the training is complete, the octopus will choose to enter the bucket and is accustomed to being inside of it while it is moved. This makes transport a lot smoother and does not produce responses such as inking, which indicate the octopus is stressed.
Bucket training is done slowly in stages, allowing the animal to become comfortable with each step before progressing to the next. Each step can take days, weeks, or longer.