MEDICINE PARK - Needing to keep staff paid and animals cared for despite being closed to the public, the Medicine Park Aquarium & Natural Sciences Center is actively soliciting monetary and animal food donations.
MPANSC Executive Director Doug Kemper says that although the aquarium had used grants, corporate sponsors and raised donations in the past to build and expand exhibits, it's the daily admission fees that ultimately keep the facility running.
NO INCOME SINCE CLOSED BY VIRUS
Since closing to the public on March 21, due to COVID-19 concerns, the center has had no income for support. "We're wholly dependent on admission fees to keep operational," said Doug. "There are no general tax funds that go toward our daily operations."
According to Doug, whether the center is closed to the public or not, staff members are necessary to provide care for the wide range of species living at the aquarium, animal food needs to be purchased and standard utilities must be paid.
With no current revenue, aquarium staff are applying for appropriate state and federal assistance for the center, Doug explained, but that could take time. At 10,000 square feet with nearly 100 exhibits, MPANSC spends close to $2,000 a month just on animal food purchases.
Housing an innumerable number of fish, amphibians, reptiles, 200 quail, prairie dogs, rabbits, two river otters, a bobcat and a coyote, aquarium staff routinely place small bulk orders of a variety of food items to keep the animals fed and healthy. Pellet foods, frozen raw seafood, fresh greens, berries and numerous prepared diets are all vital necessities.
APPROVED FOOD ITEMS
Although money is the most common form of donation, MPANSC has recently released a list of approved food items that can be donated during this difficult time. "We always welcome and solicit donations, especially right now," said Doug. "I think the best way to help would be if those that can afford to, could contribute money or food.
"Any items on the list would be helpful. Money is more flexible though. With money we can continue to pay staff and utilities. "It's always a worry we have. We have a wonderful staff and they're needed for the care of the animals. And we're worried about the animals as much as we are about our people," he said.
When the time comes and MPANSC is allowed to reopen, Doug says a plan is already in place if social distancing remains a recommendation. Until operations are back on track, the center will also not be accepting any new animals into the facility, said Doug. Normally at this time of year, the aquarium would be ready to replenish their fish stocks such as striped bass, but due to shipping costs and no daily income, those plans have been postponed.
While no new exhibits are in the works for next year, both the bobcat and coyote exhibits had been scheduled to open up for public display, one next month and the other in May. Once MPANSC reopens, Doug has assured that both of the carnivore exhibits will become available for visitor viewing.
To make a donation, checks can be mailed to the address below or through a GoFundMe account on the MPANSC Facebook page.
Medicine Park Aquarium & Natural Sciences Center
Attn: Deputy Director Rainette Rowland, PO 337 Medicine Park, OK 73557
FOOD DRIVE LIST
Donations can be dropped off at the office (trailer at the corner of the parking lot) Monday - Friday 9 a.m. - 3 p.m. Please call ahead if you can, (918) 232-0806. We want to be sure we can meet you to accept your donation.
DUMOR Poultry Grower/Finisher 15% Feed (Tractor Supply)
Chicken wings (raw)
Roast (as lean as possible)
FISH, REPTILES & OTHER
Shrimp (large and raw) Romaine heads of lettuce Mustard greens
Grassland tortoise pellets
Box turtle food
Cleaning and Sanitizing (For Tank Cleaning)