Impact Stories

Your Gifts At Work

Animal Care and Conservation Highlights

Kid with sign educating people about the oceanThanks to your support, the Aquarium’s 12,000 animal ambassadors continue to receive high quality food and animal care from our animal care team, including mammologists, aquarists, veterinary staff and water quality experts.

Kid with drawingIn addition to the care of our animal collection, your support also contributes to the Aquarium’s continued participation in a variety of conservation efforts aimed at saving endangered species.


Sea otter

Sea Otter Surrogacy Program

In early 2020, the Aquarium announced its partnership with the Monterey Bay Aquarium. The program has rescued, rehabilitated, and released stranded sea otter pups since the 1980s with an established record of success releasing otters back to the wild. Despite the financial challenges of the pandemic, in 2021 the Aquarium of the Pacific installed a custom tank and life support behind the Molina Animal Care Center as the first step in constructing the Aquarium’s sea otter surrogacy facility. Once completed, the facility will hold up to two surrogates and pups at a time, and provide an important expansion to the program.

White Abalone

White Abalone

As part of the White Abalone Recovery Project, the Aquarium team alongside our partners from NOAA and the Bay Foundation released over 1,100 white abalone in Southern Californian waters in 2020, bringing the total number released since 2019 to 4,300. During routine monitoring dives, hundreds of outplanted animals have been “re-sighted,” which is a great sign for their recovery. In late February 2021, the Aquarium received 5,000 1-year-old white abalone (cultured at UC Davis Bodega Marine Lab) to head start at the Aquarium.

Giant Sea Bass

In March 2021, the Aquarium released three tagged giant sea bass as part of the initial phase of a tracking study to learn more about the life history of the critically endangered fish. Since then, the Aquarium and partner organizations have released 22 additional tagged individuals off the coast.

Mountain Yellow Legged Frogs

Mountain Yellow Legged Frogs

The newest local conservation effort is with the critically endangered amphibian native to Southern California. In August 2021, roughly 200 tadpoles arrived to new holding enclosures behind-the-scenes. Efforts are in partnership with United States Geological Survey (USGS), United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFW), California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) and other AZA Zoological institutions to work toward the recovery of this species. The Aquarium will care for these juveniles prior to their eventual release back to their native environment.

Thanks to your support, Aquarium animal care staff are able to maintain their certifications for and membership with the Oiled Wildlife Care Network (OWCN.) The Aquarium is therefore able to participate in local oil clean-up efforts along the coast. We are grateful to remain nimble and prepared in order to be part of these efforts to protect local wildlife.

Season of STEM—Los Angeles Unified School District partnership

Kid with drawingThe Aquarium continued to provide virtual interactive science programs to local districts within Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) in 2021. The partnership between the Aquarium, LAUSD educators, and other informal education partners will continue to be valuable to teachers and students as we navigate the uncertainty around the 2021-2022 school year.

In the spring of 2021, the Aquarium facilitated both core (in-school) and enrichment programming (after-school) for 347 LAUSD 5th grade students through a 10-week session called Season of STEM. These students explored ocean food webs, conservation issues, and other topics. In the summer, programming continued through webinar events, reaching 520 classrooms and over 10,000 K-8th grade students. Each webinar also included follow-up materials for students to complete following the sessions to continue the engagement. Summer enrichment programs were held over multiple weeks and included STEM lessons on animal adaptations and ocean habitats serving an additional 180 K-2nd graders. Aquarium educators continue to hear positive feedback from LAUSD teachers and students, and look forward to seeing how this partnership continues. In a spring 2021 evaluation across all Season of STEM partners, 88% of core teachers and 96% of after-school providers surveyed rated programs as increasing students’ interest in science “a great deal.”

“Ms. Dana and Ms. Cynthia—thanks so much for teaching us so much about the ocean, animals, birds- penguins and their habitat. We learned so much from you both. This was an amazing experience. Your energy, enthusiasm, knowledge and love for all you do really shines through. You kept us all focused. You ROCK!!!!” LAUSD educator, Summer 2021

Ocean Neighbors

In 2021, Ocean Neighbors continued to serve our teen volunteers through digital learning and neighborhood engagement opportunities. Every week students select a new topic or animal and write about the topic on their sign placed in their front yard or window. It continues to be a way to engage students, and initiate their participation with other Aquarium programs. Moving forward, Ocean Neighbors will likely serve as the introduction to the Aquarium for new participants. From there, teens may explore in-person programs, Teen Climate Council, and other opportunities. As of August 2, over 100 teens were involved in Ocean Neighbors. All youth volunteer program hours totaled nearly 5000 hours of time.

“Making the signs gave me something to look forward to every week. I'm so glad that I got the opportunity to be a part of such a positive community working together to help educate others during such hard times.” Ellie, teen volunteer