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New Balance Foundation Marine Mammal Center To Open at New England Aquarium

July 8th 2009

Fur Seals Will Find New Home on Boston Harbor and Innovative Role in Teaching Children Healthy Habits

Boston -

In celebration of its 40th anniversary, the New England Aquarium proudly announces the opening of the New Balance Foundation Marine Mammal Center this month. Five northern fur seals will make this architecturally-striking structure on Boston Harbor their new home. The goals of the new center are to educate all visitors about wildlife conservation and to innovatively present these charismatic marine mammals as role models for children in developing and maintaining healthy, active lifestyles.

Driven by the New Balance Foundation's lead gift of more than $3 million, the Aquarium designed an open-air structure overlooking a rejuvenated Boston Harbor that will allow visitors to interact up-close with the northern fur seals. A primary objective of the New Balance Foundation is to promote childhood fitness and activity. Programs in the new Center will reflect that objective by encouraging young people to "Move It" with an innovative New Balance Foundation Marine Mammal Center guide that highlights exercises that mimic the seals activities.

"The New Balance Foundation is committed to encouraging childhood fitness and activity, and there is no better way to connect with children than through animals," said Anne Davis, managing trustee of the New Balance Foundation. "Our partnership with the New England Aquarium through the New Balance Foundation Marine Mammal Center will help kids get moving and active through exposure to the northern fur seal, one of the most engaging sea creatures on the planet."

Young visitors to the Center will learn how Aquarium trainers keep the seals healthy with regular, vigorous play and exercise and by feeding them a closely monitored protein-rich fish diet. Trainers will demonstrate how they help the seals learn behaviors that maintain their health and hygiene, such as opening their mouths so that trainers can brush their teeth or lying still so that veterinarians can perform physical exams.

The exhibit will open with three adult female northern fur seals named Ursula, Cordova and JD. A fourth seal, a young adult male named Isaac will remain in a behind-the-scenes holding area for several weeks as he adjusts to his new habitat. Later this summer, a 450 pound adult male named Baranov will add his significant majesty to the Center. Fur seals were nearly hunted into extinction in the 19th Century as they have the second thickest fur in the world. In coming years, California sea lions may also join the exhibit.

Howard "Bud" Ris, the Aquarium's president and chief executive officer, said the opening of the New Balance Foundation Marine Mammal Center is a major step in advancing the Aquarium's mission: "Visionary community partners like the New Balance Foundation are vital in helping us to creatively maximize the magnetism of marine mammals in our effort to help shape the next generation of healthy kids for a healthier planet."

The New Balance Foundation Marine Mammal Center is located on the harbor-side of the Aquarium and is connected with the Rose Kennedy Greenway via an entirely rebuilt HarborWalk that runs along the perimeter of Central Wharf. The publicly-accessible walkway has been elevated and resurfaced with a new wooden deck. Several small utility buildings have been removed to create better views of Boston Harbor, and passersby will be able to catch glimpses of the marine mammals through the glass walls that surround the new exhibit.

The covered but open space will feature shallow pools and large decks. The shallows with water depths from six inches to two feet are a training and interaction area for staff and some lucky visitors. Most of the remaining pool area is seven feet deep, and the entire exhibit will contain more than 68,000 gallons of water. Construction of the center began last September. The cost of the entire project including both the marine mammal center and the renovated HarborWalk and new public spaces was approximately $10 million.

About the New Balance Foundation

The New Balance Foundation is a charitable foundation established in 1981 and funded by New Balance Athletic Shoe, Inc. The Foundation's mission is to support effective charitable organizations which perform humanitarian services for the betterment of our children and our local community. Please visit www.newbalancefoundation.org

About the New England Aquarium

Located on the Boston waterfront, the New England Aquarium is one of the most prominent and popular aquariums in the United States. Hosting more than 1.3 million visitors each year, the Aquarium is a leading ocean conservation organization with research scientists working around the globe yet is also a major public education resource in New England.

Contact:

Tony LaCasse, tlacasse@neaq.org
Diana McCloy, diana@teakmedia.com
Amy Vreeland, amy.vreeland@newbalance.com
Kevin Flight, kevin.flight@regancommm.com