Aquarium of the Bay, San Francisco Bay’s only waterfront aquarium, plans to open a new North American river otter exhibit this summer. The exhibit will be an education and conservation resource and will provide an opportunity for guests to understand environmental changes. Scheduled to open in late June, the new permanent exhibit will feature river otters playing, swimming, eating and more.

“This whole exhibit is about connecting people to the upper watershed,” says John Frawley, President and CEO of Aquarium of the Bay and The Bay Institute. “River otters are the perfect animal to demonstrate the importance of the watershed. They’re charismatic and fun to watch, and they simultaneously create an opportunity for us to speak to our lifelong learners about the critical needs of our ecosystem.”

With design efforts led by EHDD, the approximately 1,000-­‐square-­‐foot exhibit will extend from the Aquarium’s Touch the Bay exhibit, taking over the Farallon Room which was previously used for events and classroom programs, and provide sweeping views of San Francisco Bay. A six-­‐foot tall living wall adorned with live plants will act as a unique backdrop to this $1.3 million expansion. The modern, gallery-­‐like exhibit will feature deep and shallow pools for the otters to cavort in, plus plenty of dry land and living foliage to explore and a small waterfall to play on. They will share the exhibit with live fishes and crawfish. Enclosed in nine-­‐foot tall glass walls, visitors will experience an almost 360-­‐degree view of the exhibit.

The North American river otter exhibit is the first part of a two-­‐part expansion plan for Aquarium of the Bay. The second phase of the expansion will include new state-­‐of-­‐the-­‐art classrooms, or “Watershed Discovery Labs,” helping the Aquarium expand its education programs. Phase two will also include rotating, temporary exhibits, allowing the Aquarium to address timely issues such as Marine Protected Areas and sustainable seafood.

Aquarium of the Bay focuses on marine and aquatic life found in the San Francisco Bay and along the California coast. Through this lens, Aquarium of the Bay interprets critical environmental issues facing wildlife, starting from the local watershed. The new North American river otter exhibit will help aquarium guests understand that humans and river otters need a healthy watershed and will inspire visitors to explore and protect it, thereby providing education about one of the most important water issues in California.

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