Friday, August 03, 2018


Yesterday we went to the Downtown Aquarium in Denver and I was reminded of the old rule in fishing. One must be quiet, so as not to disturb the fish.

That was not the rule in the Downtown Aquarium. Where children were not screaming, loud music was playing to increase the drama of the experience. Perhaps their fish are used to a particular noise level that would be distressing to fish in the wilds. But should children not be taught a reasonable behavior in wild places? And should quiet behaviors not be a requirement when we are given the opportunity to engage visually with wild things?

On the plus side,  the fish appeared healthy and there were hundreds of people at the Aquarium. On the unpleasing side, the experience of too many screaming children was not conducive to the kind of reverence that their displays deserve or that would have enhanced their exhibit for those more sensitive to such things.

Children these days are suffering form Nature Deficit Disorder. They need to be engaged in learning about the world. Zoos and aquariums can play a role in that. Children also need to be taught to show respect for nature. They need to learn to walk quietly through the forest so that they might learn from it. Children and adults also need to be taught how their everyday lives impact nature. Missing from the Downtown Aquarium was any sort of display of what the proliferation of single use plastics are doing to our oceans and our environment.

At the Henry Doorly Zoo Aquarium in Omaha Nebraska, visitors are greeted by a quotation by African environmentalist Baba Dioum who said,
"In the end we will conserve only what we love, we will love only what we understand, and we will understand only what we are taught."
To at least make a suggestion that children be taught by their parents to engage the exhibits with a sense of reverence, wonder, and respect would be an easy thing to do that would not even cut into profits. To suggest that visitors review and reconsider their use of plastics would also be a good thing.

The Denver Downtown Aquarium is owned by Landry's Restaurants, Inc., a restaurant chain. It was purchased at a fire sale price after its founding non-profit declared bankruptcy during the financial collapse of 2008.

Make, fix, and create.

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