River des Peres Trash Trap – In partnership with Missouri Confluence Waterkeeper and Blue2Blue Conservation, the Aquarium Foundation sponsored a trash trap in River des Peres located in Deer Creek Park. In 2021, it collected 896 items, with 46% being foam pieces and 32% plastic (see chart below).

A trash trap is a device made of a floating boom connected to each side of a river that collects debris as it moves down a waterway. In addition to catching litter and keeping it from entering larger waterways that lead to the ocean (in this case, the Mississippi River), our community hopes to learn more about where the litter is coming from to work on solutions.   
H2O Friends Program – the “Help to our Friends” program provides free Aquarium admission, free education classes and programs, and free bus transportation to students and families in under-resourced communities. This program is funded through many generous donors, including the Kent Family Foundation, Enterprise Bank & Trust Foundation, Nance Frost, Dana Brown Charitable Trust, O’Loughlin Family Foundation, George Bauer, Chase, Ameren, First Bank, and many individuals like you! 

In 2021, we collaborated with nonprofit organizations – such as Better Family Life, Variety Children’s Charity of St. Louis, Center for Head Injury Services, Giant Steps of St. Louis, Wisdom Academy – to bring 1,170 individuals to the Aquarium. Another 1,595 students received a free virtual education class as most schools were not able to visit in person due to the pandemic.

Thanks to the Hunter Family Foundation and Blueprint4Summer, 26 kids received a free Camp Fins & Friends Summer Camp experience and after-care – representing 19% of our campers!
Virtual Education Programs – Our virtual education classes for K-12 schools were quite the hit this year! With most schools not being able to do in-person field trips, teachers were looking for unique learning opportunities for their students, and our curriculum-based classes featuring our Ambassador Animals met their goals. Overall we presented over 2,900 students with a virtual program, 46% of which were free through our H2O Friends program.

Thanks to a donation from Chase, in December we presented four live STREAM programs featuring our live-stream cameras installed at the Shark Canyon and the Otter habitats. These programs reached an estimated 1,200 students!
The Foundation is grateful for the annual commitment of our Global Waters Circle and Aquarium Friends Circle members. We enjoyed celebrating you at the Members Night event in October.
Camp Fins & Friends Summer Camp – It was our inaugural year for our in-person summer camp! We were thrilled to welcome 144 kids ages 6 to 11 over eight weeks for a week-long camp. In addition to daily visits to the Aquarium, campers visited the behind-the-scenes water filtration systems and Shark Canyon to see how the biologists and engineers keep the Aquarium habitats in tip-top condition as the health of our animals is always of top importance! Campers also enjoyed other attractions at Union Station, such as the St. Louis Wheel, the carousel, mini golf, and a visit to the trains. See below under "Events" to learn more about signing up for this year's Camp Fins & Friends!
Volunteers - 81 volunteers logged 2,419 hours for the Aquarium Foundation in 2021! Nancy Suelflow impressively volunteered 100+ more hours than she did in 2020, serving over 950 hours this year! Thank you to Nancy and to all of our dedicated volunteers!

Interested in volunteering?
Learn more or complete an application here!
Inaugural Making Waves Gala – We were eel-ated to host our first gala in November with 325 people ready to celebrate under the sea to support the Aquarium Foundation’s mission and the Aquarium’s presence in downtown St. Louis! The event featured Jacques Cousteau's grandson and renowned ocean conservationist Fabien Cousteau and sold out two months before the event. Thanks to our event sponsors, auction donors, attendees, planning committee, Committee Chair Linda Hunter, and everyone who touched the event, we raised $385,000 to support our mission!
Essay Contest – More than 300 kids in grades Kindergarten through 12th grade submitted essays for our Aquarium Essay Contest! Congratulations to the winners in each of the four age categories and to everyone who used their ocean knowledge to write creative essays celebrating why our ocean animals are so amazing. 

Quotes from the Essay Contest Submissions, Spring 2021:
DJ, 2nd grade
"If I could be any animal, I’d be a sea otter."

Pritish, 1st Grade
"I imagine myself as a Blue Whale for one whole day. There are 2 reasons behind this. First is blue is my favorite color. Second is Blue Whale is the largest animal on earth. I want to enjoy the day fully!! So, I will start my day roaming/swimming here and there, here and there."
Pearl, 2nd grade
"If I could be any sea animal, I’d be a sea otter mama. I would roll and splash and dive with all my children." 
Adaleena (1st grade)
"If I could be any animal, I’d be a dolphin. I’d use echolocation…to talk to my dolphin friends!"
August (5th grade)
"If I could invent an aquatic creature…the best adaptations would come from octopuses, lobsters, and mantis shrimp. These changes would help my new creature survive in the deep."
Conservation & Education Center (CEC) – In 2021, we welcomed 179,124 people to the CEC, and we hope you were one of them! If you haven’t been yet, we invite you to come check it out. The admission-free CEC is open the same hours as the Aquarium and is a great extension to your Aquarium visit with interactive exhibits about our local waterways, the effects of plastic on our rivers and oceans, and ways we can all make an impact on water conservation efforts in our community.

In 2021, we added a new exhibit to the CEC – an aquaponics tree, donated by Mastercard (plants donated by Bowood Farms). This exhibit shares an important message about the symbiotic relationship between the fish in the habitat and the plants. We also invited our guests to engage in hands-on celebrations, such as Climate Change Action Week in November by leaving messages about the positive ways we can help the environment, and our river otters’ birthday in January with notes about why we love otters. 
Donor Spotlight:
Linda and Jesse Hunter
Philanthropy is a Family Affair with the Hunter Family Foundation

Linda and Jesse Hunter are a “Jaw-some” couple, dedicated to raising three FIN-tastic kids who grow up to recognize their responsibility in their community and beyond. Linda states that they started the Hunter Family Foundation, in part, to include their children – Riley age 16, Kate age 14, and Jackson age 13 – in their annual philanthropy decisions. “Now that they are old enough to understand more about the St. Louis region’s needs and how we as a family are able to help serve and be a part of the larger community, Jesse and I want them to be a part of our giving strategy,” explains Linda.

This past year, the Hunters did just that by making a gift to the Ambassador Animal Care Fund and the H2O Friends (Help to our Friends) program at the Aquarium Foundation. Half of the gift provided for 18 underserved kids to attend the week-long Camp Fins & Friends for free! The other part of their gift provided for the Aquarium to add a kinkajou to its Ambassador Animals, which our animal trainers present to Aquarium guests to further engage them in understanding animals and the importance of water to their livelihood, and to inspire empathy and interest in the natural world. Linda explains, “When we learned about the Aquarium’s desire to acquire a kinkajou – and once we saw a photo of one – we were hooked! Bucky is a real cutie, endearing guests with his big eyes and inquisitive personality!”

Linda and Jesse are also Conservator level members of our Global Waters Circle annual giving club. This important group of individuals provides an annual donation in support of ensuring our local waterways are healthy and clean for the animals, plants and humans who rely on them.

In addition to their support of the Aquarium Foundation, Linda has personally given of her time and talent for the past three years as Chair of the Development Advisory Committee. She invited friends to become involved in the committee and also agreed to chair our inaugural Making Waves gala last November. Because of her personal involvement and the Hunters’ sponsorship to bring Fabien Cousteau to St. Louis, we surpassed all event expectations by selling out two months in advance and raising $385,000!

Executive Director Diane Bauhof said, “I could not have been more fortunate than to have Linda agree to help the Aquarium Foundation in its earliest stages, before the Aquarium was even open! Her dedication, warmth, humor, and desire to help people is apparent in everything she does, and the Foundation would not be where it is today without her involvement and encouragement.”

Jackson, Riley and Kate
at Shark Canyon
Events and How to Get Involved:
Camp Fins & Friends
June 6 - August 5, 2022
Join us for summer camp at the St. Louis Aquarium at Union Station! Campers ages 5-10 will learn about aquatic animals, think critically about conservation issues, participate in fun activities and projects, AND get to enjoy the Aquarium and other attractions at St. Louis Union Station! Camp registration goes live on February 1st. Visit our website here to sign up. https://www.stlaquariumfoundation.org/summer-camp/
Give STL Day
May 5, 2022
Mark your calendars for May 5th to show your support to the St. Louis Aquarium Foundation and all your other favorite St. Louis area organizations! You can be a part of helping to provide free Aquarium field trips, education classes, and transportation to underserved students.
Mississippi River Cleanup
Saturday, April 30, 2021
We are teaming up with Great Rivers Greenway this year to host three separate river clean-ups. We invite our fellow community members to help us clean the Mississippi Greenway to prevent trash from polluting our local waterways. Our first clean-up will be on Saturday, April 30th from 10 am to noon. More details and ways to get involved coming soon!
You can symbolically adopt an Aquarium animal to support water conservation efforts to protect the adopted species in its native habitat and provide STEM education and conservation programs through the Aquarium Foundation. It’s also a great gift for a loved one for Valentine's Day, birthdays, anniversaries… or just to show your love for aquatic animals! Order yours here!
Thank you to our adoptive parents for your support! The St. Louis Aquarium Foundation sends 25% of our Adopt-an-Animal funds to support the animals' river and ocean habitats. In 2021 our proceeds went to the Flamingo Gardens in Florida and the Georgia Sea Turtle Center. Take a look at the great work these organizations are doing!
George Sea Turtle Center – The St. Louis Aquarium received our sea turtles – Tsunami and Quasi – from this organization in 2020. They rescue injured sea turtles from the ocean, rehabilitate them back to health, and provide physical therapy to ideally reintroduce them back to the wild. In Tsunami and Quasi’s case, they were not able to be reintroduced to the wild, so we will be their forever home while they serve as important ambassadors for their species in the wild.
Flamingo Gardens – This is where the St. Louis Aquarium received our three sibling river otters – Thatcher, Sawyer and Finn – in 2019. Our donation was allocated to support their North American river otter breeding program and new Care Center that is being built. They also focus on providing a repository for endangered plant and wildlife species as well as a living library of specific taxa available for research and education.
Animal Spotlight:
Potos flavus
Meet Bucky- one of the newest members of the St. Louis Aquarium at Union Station! He was added to his new home last October and has been adjusting wonderfully. Bucky is one of our smaller mammals, but what he lacks in size he makes up for in cuteness!

Bucky’s species belongs to the family of Procyonidae, which also include raccoons, ringtails, cacomistles, coatis, olingos, and olinguitos. Kinkajous typically grow to be 32 to 52 inches long and weigh between 3 to 10 pounds. Their short fur can range from several shades of tawny olive, brown, and yellow. The kinkajou is distinguished from other procyonids by their small, rounded ears, shorter muzzles, extensible tongue, and ability to grasp with their tail. You can find kinkajous in closed-canopy tropical forests of Mexico, southeastern Brazil, and Central America.

Because of their sharp teeth they are classified as Carnivora, but they mainly follow an omnivorous diet mostly of fruit. Bucky's favorites are bananas, honey, and grapes! Kinkajous have an extrudable tongue of five-inches, which help them scoop out pulp from fruit as well as seeds and nectar from flowers. Kinkajous plan an important part in seed dispersal and pollination.

Kinkajous are nocturnal animals and are usually the most active between 7:00 pm and midnight, and again before down. During the day, they sleep in shaded areas such as tree hollows or under tangles of leaves, avoiding direct sunlight. The average lifespan of a kinkajou is about 23 years human care! Bucky just turned one, and we are so excited to see him grow up and spend a long, happy life with us.

Thank you to the Hunter Family Foundation for their contribution to our Ambassador Animal Care Fund, making it possible to bring Bucky here to his new home to help educate our guests about a variety of animals and how they all contribute to the world's biodiversity.
Say SHELL-o to our
Newest Team Member!

We would like to o-FISH-ally welcome our new St. Louis Aquarium Foundation Team member!

Quienton Townsend,
Education Manager
Quienton was born and raised in St. Louis, graduating with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Human Development and Family Studies with an emphasis in Child Life, and a Master’s in Management and Leadership. He proudly served 12 years as a Certified Child Life Specialist at a local children’s hospital where he helped reduce pediatric patients’ anxiety and normalize the patients’ hospitalization through education, support, preparation and distraction during medical procedures. Following this role, Quienton continued on a path of educating children as the Camps Manager at the Saint Louis Science Center. He joined the team at the St. Louis Aquarium in December 2021 and is excited to share his love of animals and environmental wellness with others. 
St. Louis Aquarium Foundation | 314.923.3926 | info@stlaquariumfoundation.org