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Aquarium Wild for Aquarists

Scrubbing the algae off an albino alligator’s back. Measuring the growth of a young sea turtle. Making sure a ray eats all its dinner. Fostering a sea horse nursery. Aquarists at the NC Aquarium at Fort Fisher do these tasks and many more as animal care professionals.
 In honor of National Zoo Keeper Week (July 15-21), the Aquarium honors these professionals for their dedication to the nearly 5,000 animals in the Aquarium’s care and all they do to further the Aquarium’s mission. The experience and expertise of the Aquarists ensures the health and well-being of the Aquarium’s animals. Their vast knowledge of species and animal behavior helps visitors make connections between the animals they see and the conservation messages they hear. In addition to daily animal needs, Aquarists use their experience and education in science and biology to further messages of aquatic and wildlife conservation. “
The Aquarists at Fort Fisher are valued for their expertise in so many areas,” said Aquarium Director Peggy Sloan. “Their hard work and dedication enables the Aquarium’s mission of conservation, whether they are growing live coral, breeding jellies, offering input for new exhibits, assisting in scientific research, training animals or sharing their knowledge with a guest.”
The American Association of Zoo Keepers (AAZK) and zoos and aquariums across the nation celebrate National Zoo Keeper Week annually honoring animal care professionals and the work they do in animal care, conservation and education. The public can discover more of what an aquarist does by taking part in one of the Aquarium’s behind-the-scenes programs (pre-registration is required and can be made by visiting www.ncaquariums .com/fort-fisher):
• EXTENDED BEHIND THE SCENES TOUR - Wednesdays, July 18 and 25 at 2 p.m. - It’s feeding time, and you’re invited to watch. Visit the top of our largest exhibit, the Cape Fear Shoals, during an expanded tour behind the scenes. Get a birds-eye view of this 235,000 gallon tank as sharks, stingrays and other fish swim below! Aquarists feed the animals during the tour, offering a unique opportunity for close-up viewing. Children younger than 8 are not permitted. Children ages 8 to 14 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian. Fee: $20, ages 13 and older; $18, ages 8-12 Aquarium admission included.
• BEHIND THE SCENES TOUR - Thursdays, July 19 and 26 at 11:30 a.m. - Have you ever wondered what goes on behind the scenes at the Aquarium? Come explore spaces for animal holding, husbandry, life support systems, and backstage access to exhibits. Participants should wear closed-toed shoes. Children under 8 are not permitted. Children ages 8 to 14 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian. $15 ages 13 and older; $13, ages 8-12 Aquarium admission included.
N.C. Aquarium at Fort Fisher is located just south of Kure Beach, 15 miles from Wilmington, on U.S. 421 South. The site is less than a mile from the Fort Fisher ferry terminal. Hours: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily (closed Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day). Admission: $8 adults; $7 ages 62 and older; $6 ages 3-12. Free admission for: children under 3; registered groups of N.C. school children, and NC Aquarium Society members. General information: www.