Local News

Texas State Aquarium Planning New Rehabilitation Facility to Continue Saving Wildlife

By  | 

We hate spam too, we'll never share your email address

 

 

In the wake of Hurricane Harvey, the Texas State Aquarium’s wildlife care manager, Alyssa Barrett, found herself face to face with a species that doesn’t usually make its way to the Texas shores. Covered in cactus spines, a frigatebird (a native species of tropical and subtropical waters in the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans) had been discovered by an area resident close to Baffin Bay. Barrett and her team rushed the bird to the aquarium for treatment, which would be one of many species they assisted following the tremendous damage that Harvey had wreaked.

Texas State Aquarium Planning New Rehabilitation Facility to Continue Their Valued Work

Photo: Facebook/Texas State Aquarium

The bird has since been able to make the Texas State Aquarium its permanent home, taking up residence in its Caribbean Journey exhibit. It’s the only one of its kind in the care of an accredited North American facility – owing to the fact that it can no longer fly as a result of its injuries. Hurricane Harvey also resulted in aquarium officials making room for other marine wildlife and birds at both the Aquarium at Rockport Harbor and the University of Texas-Austin Marine Science Institute in Port Aransas. The devastation that was caused by the storm gave cause for the re-homing of chickens, macaws, and goats, turtles, and brown pelicans, among others.

Texas State Aquarium Planning New Rehabilitation Facility to Continue Their Valued Work

Photo: Facebook/Texas State Aquarium

This type of service and its resulting rehabilitation and return of the species to the wild (when possible) is part of the Texas State Aquarium’s mission, together with conservation. Subsequently, the opening of a new rehabilitation facility on their property is in their near future. The facility comes with an anticipated price tag of $20 million, but with an expected return that is practically incalculable in terms of value to the species that it will assist. Scheduled for 2021, the state-of-the-art building is timely in that aquarium representatives have acknowledged that the impact of another environmental disaster along the Gulf of Mexico is imminent, and the need to be prepared to assist is great.

Texas State Aquarium Planning New Rehabilitation Facility to Continue Their Valued Work

Photo: Facebook/Texas State Aquarium

Three years following the opening of the Texas State Aquarium in Corpus Christi in 1990, it was recognized as a federally permitted animal rehabilitation facility. Beginning small, through the rescue and rehabilitation of cold-stunned and injured sea turtles, its staff eventually developed to accommodate shorebirds, raptors, dolphins, and manatees, respectively. The end goal of the process is the release of the injured and rehabilitated animals back into the wild. The walls of the rehabilitation building feature photo upon photo of such successes – at a rate of 65 percent of the 2,500 creatures they’ve come to care for. For those that can’t be released, the other resort is to house them at the aquarium, under the care and watchful eyes of its personnel. In terms of numbers, this boils down to 23 animals of the aquarium’s 12,400, which have been rescued and rehabilitated but were unable to make their return to the wild. The habitats (both land and water) permit not only their support but growth as well. This spring, the flamingos began to build nests as the groundwork for breeding, and baby sharks can be found in the 400K-gallon exhibit. Exotic bird chicks can already be found on-site, and the stingrays can be seen with the distinguishing grate marks which are associated with their breeding rituals.

Texas State Aquarium Planning New Rehabilitation Facility to Continue Their Valued Work

Photo: Facebook/Texas State Aquarium

The aquarium is also working with bottlenose dolphins as well as coral reef conservation and rehabilitation, among the many other projects they’re laboring to accommodate. Officials hope to expand their efforts even further once they’re able to complete construction on the new rehabilitation facility, which is expected to allow them to provide state-of-the-art care to injured species, and enhance their coral reef work. The project is not a state-funded one, and with design projected for 2018, officials hope to have a fundraising plan in place to ensure ground-breaking as early as 2020, with its grand opening scheduled for 2021. It’s an ambitious plan, but not one that’s out of the realm of possibility. As far as its past successes have proven, the staff of the Texas State Aquarium is more than capable of that accomplishment.