Aquarium’s residents launch an emotional appeal to public to help

The fishy, furry and feathery residents of St Andrews Aquarium in Fife have launched an emotive appeal to the public today to see if they can help them with the costs of food, heat, light and their keepers while the Aquarium is closed to the public due to the impact of COVID-19.

St Andrews Aquarium is home to over 1000 different animals who all still require the same level of care and attention, even though the venue is officially closed to the public. The appeal states “Every day the humans spend about £50 on food (we like food), £90 on heat and light, and around £160 on a small team of keepers (we like them a lot, they play with us).”

A special donation page has been set up, encouraging the public to donate from £5 to “feed the fish” and includes options to “perk up the penguins” and “send love to the seals”.

John Mace, owner of St Andrews Aquarium, commented:

“Like so many businesses affected by the coronavirus pandemic, we have done our level best to comply with the lockdown restrictions but, unlike so many venues, we can’t simply close the doors and walk away. Our animals require exactly the same level of care and nourishment that they always get and that means we have to keep a team of keepers in position, as well as pay for the ongoing costs of heat, light and food. Those costs are beginning to really mount up.”

“We’ve been doing our bit to keep the public entertained during the lockdown, with regular videos of the animals. We now ask if the public can help us out a little. £5 might not feel like much but every little donation will help the animals. By way of saying thank you, when we are all through this, we plan to do something very special for those who can help us out at this time.”

Fife Pocket Money Powers Australian Wildlife Fundraiser

Young visitors to St Andrews Aquarium in Fife over the mid-term break have collectively raised £612 in aid of an Australian wildlife rescue organization (WIRES) that is battling the catastrophic effects of the recent bushfires, through a series of fundraising initiatives organized by the Fife visitor attraction.

WIRES (The New South Wales Wildlife Information, Rescue and Education Service) has been dealing with unprecedented levels of tens of thousands of calls to its helpline and thousands of call outs to rescue native animals affected by a lack of water, food and damage to their habitats. The devastating fires combined with the worst drought in history and record high temperatures have taken a tragic toll on native wildlife with many animals struggling as a result.

The fundraising activities were drummed up by the team at the Aquarium, who were frequently being asked by younger visitors to the attraction if there was anything that the Aquarium could do to rescue the animals affected by the bushfire.

John Mace, general manager of St Andrews Aquarium, commented:

“Young people care passionately about the planet and animals and we were increasingly being asked whether we would be taking in animals that had lost their homes due to the horrific conditions caused by the bushfires. While we’re a little too far away to be of immediate assistance, it got us thinking about what we could do to help and our team devised easy ways that the kids could fundraise around the Aquarium and help do their bit. It was simple things, like donating all the income from the kiddie rides in our foyer area, to donations for quiz sheets when they were visiting. We ran the fundraising activities over the mid-term break to make sure we got the most kids involved. It just goes to show the collective power of pocket money in helping to make a difference thousands of miles away.”

The donations to WIRES will contribute to directly support the animals in their care.

To find out more about St Andrews Aquarium www.standrewsaquarium.co.uk

It’s Love-All for Andy’s Baby Penguin

St Andrews Aquarium in Fife has this week has revealed the first official images of their 15-week old baby Humboldt penguin, Nathaniel, whose penguin parents are named after the tennis player Andy Murray and his Dad, William.

The baby penguin, who has already been waddling gleefully around his new enclosure for a few weeks, hatched into this world on 26th October 2019. It is the first Humboldt penguin to be successfully bred at St Andrews Aquarium who are part of a breeding programme to protect the future of this vulnerable species of penguin.

The Humboldt penguins have been resident at St Andrews Aquarium since 2013, with one named Andy in honour of the Scots tennis player’s Wimbledon win that same year. The other female penguins were named after Andy’s Mum Judy, then girlfriend Kim and grandmother Shirley while the male penguins, which followed in 2014, were named after the men in the Murray clan: Jamie, William and Roy after Andy’s brother, father and grandfather.

The baby penguin has been nicknamed Nathaniel, Greek for ‘Gift of God’, by the Aquarium team, although the baby penguin’s sex will not be known until a blood test is performed in another couple of weeks. Nathaniel is pictured waddling around his enclosure with his Uncle Roy, while Mum and Dad took a well earned break. In true Olympic spirit, befitting of his Greek nickname and sporting lineage, he’s already developed a taste for swimming in the natural saltwater pool with keepers remarking that he won’t even eat his dinner unless he gets to go underwater fishing for it first.

John Mace, general manager of St Andrews Aquarium, commented:

Nathaniel has been a real joy for us as we’ve seen him successfully develop and adapt to this, somewhat inclement, Scottish weather over the last 15 weeks. He’s got his feathering now, although his Humboldt markings are not yet showing, and he’s looking very cute – every bit the baby penguin! He’s reacting well to people and pretty much taking it all in his stride (or, wobble!). Mum and Dad are rightfully protective of him, but with their help he’s already mastered swimming, is feeding well and has made himself at home. His Uncle Roy also keeps a watchful eye on him, penguin-sitting him while Mum and Dad get a break from the joys of parenthood. We can’t wait to find out whether he is actually a boy or a girl, but it will be a couple of weeks before we know for sure.”

Members of the public can now meet Nathaniel when they are visiting and the keepers hold a daily penguin talk at 2pm. St Andrews Aquarium is open seven days a week in winter from 10am – 5pm, with last entry in winter at 4pm.

To find out more about St Andrews Aquarium www.standrewsaquarium.co.uk

St Andrews Aquarium meerkats start the new decade in a new den

With most of us striving to keep the house in check after the Christmas festivities, spare a thought for the team at St Andrews Aquarium who battled against the advent clock to finish off a new enclosure for their family of thirteen meerkats.

The new enclosure, which re-opened this week, has almost doubled in size and comes with the added bonus of 30 metres of tunnels in which the meerkats can now play hide and seek.

John Mace, general manager of St Andrews Aquarium, commented:

“We’re really pleased that we managed to finish the meerkat enclosure just before Christmas – our playful meerkats are very popular with visitors and since they’ve been with us now for almost a decade we felt it was time their home had a bit of a spruce up. We have refreshed the enclosure over the years, but this was a fairly major extension and I’m really pleased with how it’s turned out. The meerkats have been settling in over the last few days while we’ve been enjoying the festive break and seem to very much enjoy their new tunnel system.”

St Andrews Aquarium is open seven days a week in winter from 10am – 5pm, with last entry in winter at 4pm. The Aquarium is closed on New Year’s Day.

To find out more about St Andrews Aquarium www.standrewsaquarium.co.uk

Freaky four-eyed fish a first for Fife aquarium

St Andrews Aquarium in Fife is the first aquarium in Scotland to welcome a display of rare four-eyed fish this Autumn. The shoal of 10 Anablaps, which originally come from the rivers of South America, have been transferred to St Andrews Aquarium from Living Waters at Paignton Zoo in Devon.

The Anableps use their bizarre eyes to see both above and below the water’s surface at the same time. The pupil in each eye is horizontally divided into two parts, giving the impression they have four eyes. This unusual anatomical anomaly allows the fish to find food at or below the surface and also give it extra protection against predators from above and below.

John Mace, general manager of St Andrews Aquarium said: “They’re amazing-looking fish and I fully expect they’ll be one of our most popular freshwater species here at the aquarium. They are quite mesmerising to look at and, most unusually, unlike other fish they don’t lay eggs but actually give birth to fully formed fish which is quite rare. We’re hopeful that they’ll settle into their new home quickly and we’ll be looking at young Anableps joining the shoal in due course.” St Andrews Aquarium is open seven days a week from 10:00am – 6:00pm, with last entry at 5.00pm.

Mischief making iguanas top the naughty list after full ‘scale’ fight

The team at St Andrews Aquarium in Fife have had to step in to break up a full “scale” Iguana fight between their two resident iguanas, leading them to believe their October holiday campaign called “Mischief in the Making” may have been taken far too seriously by the animals involved.

The two green iguanas, who have been resident at the Aquarium for several years, have never fought before. The recent scrap between the two (a male and a female), however, resulted in a trip to the vets this week and the requirement for both to get stitches.

John Mace, general manager at St Andrews Aquarium, commented:

“I’ve no idea what they were fighting about, they’ve never fought before, but we needed to seek veterinary treatment for both of the iguanas today. In their scuffles, they have managed to pierce each other’s delicate reptilian skin and, because it doesn’t heal as easily as human skin, they have both required stitches!

“We’ve been running an October marketing campaign called ‘Mischief in the Making’ which is largely centred on the naughty antics of our monkeys, penguins and seals. Perhaps they were feeling that they weren’t getting enough attention as a result, but suffice to say, they are now at the top of my list as aquarium mischief makers!”

Both iguanas have been given the all clear by the vets and are now on the mend and expected to make a full recovery. Iguanas are normally very laid-back animals, but have been known to be territorial, with fighting often seen as an assertion of dominance.

St Andrews Aquarium is open seven days a week from 10:00am – 6:00pm, with last entry at 5.00pm. Expert talks on reptile handling take place daily at 11.20am and 2.20pm.

St Andrews Aquarium welcomes animal superfan to their talks team

An animal expert and passionate fan of the natural world has been appointed to join the talented team at St Andrews Aquarium. Christie Dewar-Holmes, 26, has joined the aquarium’s talks team, leading presentations about the various animals to visitors.

Christie’s appointment marks an exciting period for the Fife-based aquarium which welcomed tens of thousands of visitors over a busy summer period. The visitor attraction also recently completed a series of upgrades to its amphibian and invertebrate enclosures which have enabled the aquarium to create mini ecosystems with more plants and green spaces to create more of a natural habitat for the animals.

From Kirkcaldy, Christie’s lifelong “obsession” with the animal world led her to study Animal Biology at Edinburgh Napier University and seek out opportunities that involved working with animals.

Christie said:

“When I was a teenager, I started a small business as a pet sitter to supplement my income. I’ve also worked in catteries and volunteered at a bunch of places including a butterfly house. I volunteered at Edinburgh Zoo while I was studying which has led to a seasonal job there and I work for Vets Now as an Animal Care Assistant. I’ve loved working at St Andrews Aquarium too because I’ve been able to work with so many different animals and the staff have been so welcoming.”

While Christie is clearly in her element working closely with the many different animals, presenting in front of large numbers of people can be more of a challenge. Christie explained:

“I have autism and, when I was younger, I could be quite awkward at times.  I worked on this by performing in theatre productions when I was growing up and they gave me the confidence to talk in front of people. That early experience combined with being knowledgeable about the animals makes it a lot easier to present talks.”

Originally a volunteer at the aquarium, Christie’s enthusiasm, knowledge and easy rapport with visitors meant the aquarium team were keen to keep her around.

John Mace, Managing Director at St Andrews Aquarium, said:

“We are delighted to have someone of Christie’s calibre join our brilliant talks team. Her boundless enthusiasm and insight into the animals makes for an exciting and hugely educational experience for our visitors. We have added more talks this summer so there are more opportunities than ever before for the public to engage with our talks team and the animals during a visit.”

Expert talks and feedings take place throughout the day including reptile handling, monkey and seal feedings and talks and meerkat and penguin feedings. When asked her favourite animals to present talks on, it’s not an easy choice for Christie. She added:

“There’s so many exotic species to explore and enjoy here at St Andrews Aquarium. I do, however, have a soft spot for our Harbour Seals – they are so intelligent! In particular, little Dug the seal is wonderful to work with.”

St Andrews Aquarium is open seven days a week from 10:00am – 6:00pm, with last entry at 5.00pm.

Aquarium Residents Share a Cool Easter Treat

The resident seals and penguins of St Andrews Aquarium in Fife enjoyed a cool Easter treat today, taking time out from the weekend sunshine to enjoy a frozen ‘easter egg” containing their favourite treat, mackerel. The treats were prepared by the Aquarium team when they heard the forecast was for warmer weather this weekend.

In a series of posts and videos released on the Aquarium’s facebook page, the Humboldt penguins and Nelly the seal were shown playing with the egg-celent icy Easter treats in the water, as well as inspecting them up close.

John Mace, Managing Director at St Andrews Aquarium, commented: “When it’s warmer, frozen fish popsicles are a great way for the animals to cool down and for visitors to the Aquarium to enjoy watching them play. With it being Easter this weekend it only made sense that they were Easter egg shaped! The penguins were very curious about their frozen egg and can be seen ‘bopping’ it with their beaks in the water. Nelly also seemed to enjoy her afternoon playing with her eggs shaped ball of icy mackerel.”

St Andrews Aquarium is open 7 days a week from 10:00am – 6:00pm, with last entry at 5pm.

To find out more about St Andrews Aquarium visit the website: www.standrewsaquarium.co.uk

Volunteer opportunities available

Are you mad for Meerkats and potty for Penguins? Fancy getting to spend lots of time with our amazing animals?

We have a couple of very exciting positions to join our animal talks and feeding presenters team on a voluntary basis. As part of our team you will get to know our animals really well and will help tell all of our visitors about them. We have a number of volunteer positions available and welcome all interested to apply.

The role will involve delivering our daily animal talks and feeding sessions plus our reptile handling. You will be given full training and will be supported in your role by our experience team of animal experts. Ideal candidates will LOVE animals, be enthusiastic about education and confident communicators, and will be able to work between 10am and 5pm, a couple of days per week.

You will join a committed and passionate team who continue to strive to offer the very best visitor experience and care for our animals. St. Andrews Aquarium is a family run business that has BIG plans for the future and you can be a part of our journey.

Please apply by sending a letter (telling us why you would love this job and be great at it) and CV to splishsplash@standrewsaquarium.co.uk