By Elijah Robinson
This calls for a SEALebration!
The Aquarium of Niagara teamed up with Cornerstone Community Federal Credit Union to host a community access day on June 24 in recognition of the aquarium’s rescued seals: Lumiere, Della, Stryker and Medusa.
At the ceremony, Senior Development Manager Alexandria Lang, Cornerstone CEO Eric Hepkins and City of Niagara Falls Mayor Robert Restaino helped present the credit union’s $30,000 check that will be used to continue to maintain the rescue exhibit.
Lang highlighted the importance of the exhibit’s place in the community.
“If you’re wondering what does an aquarium and a credit union have in common, it’s our dedication to the communities we serve,” she said. “And what better way to celebrate that than from this exhibit here, and that’s because it’s outdoors – it’s our only outdoors exhibit that’s free and open to the public whenever the aquarium is operating, and we really love that we have that as a key asset for our community and anyone who that walks by in this area.”
Restaino explained the aquarium’s important place in the Niagara Falls community.
“This aquarium continues to draw so many people to our community and, every time you come here, you help make it grow,” he said.
Hepkins spoke about how this sponsorship continues their mission of strengthening communities.
“Niagara Falls is an amazing community, it’s an amazing resource for WNY – the aquarium,” he said. “For us, it’s an honor to be able to support an organization that brings such an accessible educational resource for our community.”
Medusa enjoying the ice toy with the Cornerstone logo.
Here are some facts about the seals in the rescue exhibit:
•Lumiere, a harbor seal, was rescued on April 6, 2017, by Pacific Marine Mammal Center.
When rescued, he was dehydrated and malnourished. Lumiere exhibited abnormal eating behaviors and had difficulty swallowing fish. Since arriving at the aquarium, he has learned to eat.
•Stryker, a harbor seal, was rescued on April 9, 2017, by Marine Mammal Stranding Center. He was struck by a boat that severed his hind flipper, thus the name.
Stryker’s injury was so severe that his hind flipper had to be amputated. He was deemed non-releasable because he was not able to swim against strong currents.
•Della, a gray seal, was rescued on Sept. 4, 1990, by the Marine Mammal Stranding Center. She was not afraid of human interaction and was following ferries, putting her at risk of conflicts with fishermen, entanglement, or boat strikes. Della is blind from cataracts; she works with her trainers using verbal and tactile cues.
•Medusa, a gray seal, was rescued March 25, 2016, by Riverhead Foundation for Marine Research & Conservation. She is blind from bilateral cataracts. Medusa received cataract removal surgery in 2017 to help keep her eyes as healthy as possible.
After the check presentation, aquarium attendees were treated to an ice toy animal enrichment presentation, where an ice toy, crafted with ice and unflavored gelatin, in the form of the Cornerstone logo, was given to the seals to play with. Medusa was particularly excited to play, as she picked up the ice toy and went to the bottom of the pool with it.