On 13 November 2016, the Two Oceans Aquarium will celebrate 21 years of operation. We have put together a series of blogs to look back on the remarkable journey.
Helen Lockhart is the Communications & Sustainability Manager of the Two Oceans Aquarium.
One of the greatest joys for me is seeing the look on little children’s faces when they see the exhibits teeming with fish in the Two Oceans Aquarium. The sheer delight, the smiles and the excited chatter are enough to bring a smile to anyone and to stir up a warm fuzzy feeling in hearts. There are also those children who just silently stare with utter astonishment at the dazzling shapes and sizes of the fish as they flit around the exhibits.
Many of these children live within just a few kilometres of the ocean surrounding us, but have never even been to the beach, let alone seen any of the underwater creatures before. For many of these children a visit to the Aquarium is a life-changing experience.
We launched the Adopt-a-School programme through which corporate partners are invited to sponsor a school group visit to the Aquarium. A number of companies have joined us over the years and thanks to their generosity 21 926 children have come through our doors through this programme.
The Aquarium itself has sponsored visits for 19 921 children, 5 375 adults and 11 419 pensioners since 2007.
In 2003, the first group of Cosatu pensioners visited the Aquarium free of charge as part of Cosatu Western Cape’s senior citizen programme and this has become an annual event.
The Aquarium has also hosted Christmas parties for children affected or infected by HIV. These children have been treated to a tour of the Aquarium, which has included arts and crafts and a puppet show, lunch and a special visit from Santa Claus bearing gifts for each child.
In 2007 our marketing team visited the Morningstar EduCare Centre in Bloekombos, taking Christmas fare, treats and gifts to 50 children.
Not only does the Aquarium sponsor children and pensioner groups, but we also give out hundreds of complimentary tickets each year to organisations for fundraising purposes.
We also help to make dreams come true for children suffering from a terminal illness. Mohammed Hendricks’ dive at the Aquarium was a very special dream, which was made reality thanks to our dive master Iain Robertson.
The Aquarium is an extremely rewarding place to work as not only do we showcase beautiful animals, conduct important conservation and life-saving work, and educate thousands of children, but we are also able to share our world with those less fortunate than ourselves.
You can help us
Thousands of children live close to the sea, but many have never had the chance to go to the beach or play in the waves.
Many of these children may never experience the joy of seeing underwater through a mask, let alone go scuba diving or travelling to exotic destinations to see animals in the wild.
Nothing can replace the incredible impact and sheer delight of interacting with living animals.
You can make this happen by sponsoring a visit to the Aquarium for a child.
Sponsored children will be treated to a hands-on discovery activity presented by one of our highly trained and skilled education staff. They will then explore the Aquarium and encounter amazing animals like Knysna seahorses, giant spider crabs, ragged-tooth sharks, penguins and much, much more.