August 3, 2013 - On and off since April of this year, the Fresno Aquarium has had PSAs created by our friend Ray Appleton, a well-known talk show host, running on the local Peak radio stations. These generous sixty second spots have been creating a lot of buzz lately and helping us sell quite a few concrete blocks as well. Because of the time constraints of radio, however, it's difficult to squeeze all the facts of the project into that one minute, so it's natural that folks who hear it may have some questions.
Aquarius Aquarium Institute has raised $5 million in cash and in-kind contributions since we began back in 2000. You can read Tom Lang's detailed March 30, 2013 post about this milestone here. This includes the exhibits and life support system equipment donated to us by the Steinhart Aquarium in 2009 and our 10-acre property overlooking the San Joaquin River adjacent to Highway 99, which was donated to the Fresno Aquarium in August 2006. The rest of the donations have gone toward getting us to where we are today as far as fees and plans, studies and consultants so we can be sure we can build the Fresno Aquarium life support basement on our property when we are ready.
Emails from our community have asked whether people will be able to visit the basement or will it just be a basement? On this website's Donate page, we are letting donors know that "The Fresno Aquarium life support basement will be a stand-alone, usable Aquarium facility while funds are raised to continue construction of the expansion areas above it."
So, yes, people will be able to go inside the basement that will contain fish that will represent the very beginnings of our aquatic animal collection. We will continue to raise funds to expand and build upon this foundation, but those costs and timeframes are totally dependent on the continued support of our community. Of course, if someone were to come along with a million dollars (or more!), we would be able to grow much quicker, but we are very satisfied to be a grassroots, broadly-supported nonprofit 501(c)(3) project!
Like all public Aquariums, the Fresno Aquarium will never truly be "done." The 10 acres we own is a lot of space to fill. The Aquarium will always be growing and changing to reflect the lives and interests of its visitors and donors. The costs to build new exhibits and new spaces will undoubtedly rise in the future, and we will continue to let our community know what each step will cost as we proceed.