Eric Rose of the Newport Aquarium Visits Rotary

by Pat Moynahan on July 14, 2015

FLORENCE – The Newport Aquarium is taking its show on the road.

The aquarium has equipped a vehicle to take snakes, penguins and other “aquatic ambassadors” to schools, churches, libraries and corporate events for aquatic programs. The vehicle will even have a portable tank for sharks, according to Eric Rose, vice president and executive director of the aquarium.

Eric Rose of the Newport Aquarium.

Eric Rose of the Newport Aquarium.

“The aquarium is very popular, but (the vehicle) will enable us to take programs into communities to people who might not be able to come,” Rose said.

Rose spoke to the Florence Rotary Club on Monday, July 6, about the Newport Aquarium and programs it offers. He said the Newport facility, one of only a few for-profit aquariums in the country, is on pace to set an attendance record for the second year in a row.

He also noted that the aquarium has served as a catalyst for economic revitalization on the Newport riverfront. The revitalization will take another leap forward with plans for a Ferris wheel and a new hotel next to Newport on the Levee, Rose said.

“An entertainment area has to continually redefine itself,” he said, “and we have to redefine ourselves as well.”

The traveling exhibit is one example of how Newport Aquarium is redefining itself. The vehicle is sponsored by WAVE, an independent non-profit educational foundation in partnership with Newport Aquarium. WAVE is an acronym for Welfare of Aquatic Animals through Advocacy, Volunteerism and Education.

The foundation offers a number of educational programs such as a week long day camp for children 5-13. WAVE also supports conservation efforts, including research on fresh-water mussels in the Licking River in collaboration with Thomas More College and the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources.

At the heart of both the foundation and the aquarium are volunteers, Rose said. More than 500 volunteers, many of them retirees, assist with aquarium and WAVE programs. The Summer Naturalist program trains teenagers to interpret exhibits and help visitors to the aquarium, too.

“WAVE does the heavy lifting,” Rose said.

“We are trying to inspire adults and children to love the natural world. If we can inspire them to do so, more people will care about conversation and care for the animals of the world.”