Aquarium of the Pacific raises $139K for animal care, education, conservation programs

The Aquarium of the Pacific raised $139,000 during its Sea Fare Chowderfest last month.

The annual event, which convened in-person for the first time since prior to the pandemic, supports the aquarium’s unrestricted funds, specifically going toward the animal care, education and conservation programs.

“It was so fun to see the aquarium so alive and buzzing,”  said development event coordinator Erin Keim. “It’s such a fun, high-energy event, it was really great to see the aquarium back in action.”

From upgrading the aquarium’s over 100 exhibits and providing high-quality food to its sea life, to helping fund school field trips, the Sea Fare Chowderfest is integral to the facility’s efforts, Keim said.

“Those are foundations of our mission and our vision,” Keim said. “We are a destination where people can come see, learn and experience everything about the Pacific Ocean.”

The $139,000 raised was in line with the aquarium’s goal, Keim said.

“We were very happy with how many we raised,” she said. “Those educational programs are just raising the next generations of scientists and STEM participants that can continue our such important work in conservation and being a leader in conservation in Southern California.”

Over 700 attendees and more than 20 local businesses including King’s Seafood, Gladstone’s, Butter and Cream Bakery, Polly’s Pies and Fine Feathers Kombucha Company participated in the sold-out event, where guests enjoyed savory food, fresh baked goods, unlimited craft beer and wine, live music and auctions.

Among the event’s festivities included a chowder competition, where guests sampled 14 different kinds of chowder and voted on their favorite, ultimately selecting Sura Korean BBQ & Tofu House’s Korean take on clam chowder as the winner.

“It was fun to see the restaurants flex their creativity,” Keim said.

Unlike in previous years, the event extended throughout the aquarium’s various exhibits, with food and beverages offered inside the aquarium’s galleries.

“You really went on a choose-your-own-adventure as to what samples you wanted to try . . . while checking out our amazing exhibits and our collection of over 12,000 animals,” Keim said.

The event’s live and silent auction included a 45-gallon in-home aquarium, tickets to the 2023 Long Beach Acura Grand Prix, Lakers and Clippers tickets, plus trips to various Southern California destinations.

Planning particularly for the auctions generally begins a year in advance.

The event itself, meanwhile, also included a lot of staff participation, with husbandry staff that takes care of the animals interacting with guests and answering questions.

“It’s a lot of collaboration with the entire aquarium,” Keim said. “It really takes an entire village to pull this event off.”

Chowderfest is one of the aquarium’s two main fundraisers each year, and the nonprofit is currently gearing up for its Blue Whale Gala in June, with tickets slated to go on sale in early 2023.

“It’s our 25th anniversary year, so we’re really excited to take a look back at where aquarium has been and to the future, where are are headed,” Keim said.

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