African penguins standing side by side appearing to form a heart with their flippers

Strengthening the Heart of Our Animal Care

Our new Juli Plant Grainger Animal Care Center, which opened in November, meets two of our most important goals: expanding animal health care and providing educational opportunities for aspiring veterinarians.

We now have triple the space of our previous veterinary facility. The center houses a diagnostic laboratory, two animal hospital wards, office space for veterinary staff, students, volunteers and interns, and improved medical storage and equipment sterilization capacities.

The center allows us to:

  • Efficiently employ new diagnostic equipment to examine and treat animals.
  • Address the specific needs of rescued wildlife, including sea otters, sea turtles and other animals that are more likely to strand in our region as the ocean continues to warm.
  • Effectively quarantine sick birds and other air-breathing animals to prevent the spread of disease.
  • Create a learning environment where our aquarists can expand their knowledge of animal health issues.
  • Contribute to the field of conservation medicine by providing formal training opportunities for veterinary students and graduates, especially those from communities underrepresented in the profession today.

Your embrace of this vision means we can now do so much more to care for ocean animals both here at the Aquarium, and in the wild.


Vet tech Marissa Young assists Dr. Mike in examining an African penguin in the updated animal health lab

DR. MIKE MURRAY, our Jane Dunaway Director of Veterinary Services, says he's "just a science geek" at heart. "I love medicine, biology and wildlife," he says. "I like to know what makes things tick."

Fortunately for our animals, he's the most caring geek you'll ever meet. Dr. Mike, as he's fondly called, is the primary caregiver for more than 550 wet, weird and wonderful species at the Aquarium, and others we rescue from the wild.

"I don't worry about the exact number, though, because the most important patient is the one that's right in front of me," he says.

After more than 30 years at the Aquarium, the self-proclaimed "country fish doctor" now operates out of a new space. The expanded Juli Plant Grainger Animal Care Center, completed in November, is three times as large as the former facility.

Besides being easier to work in, the center enables Dr. Mike to host aspiring students and veterinary fellows.

"It's so important for students to have real-world experience," he says. "It helped me decide what I wanted to do, and I want to provide the same opportunity to others. We're already talking to local students who may be thinking about vet school."

Dr. Mike humbly acknowledges that we couldn't have built the new center without the support from local communities and donors large and small. "They stepped up and made the whole thing a reality. It was heartwarming," he says.

"I'm especially grateful to our longtime donor, Jane Dunaway. With her compassion for animals, she permanently endowed the Aquarium's director of veterinary services position," Dr. Mike adds. "Her generosity will ensure that this critical role is secure for generations to come."

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Amazing New Animals

Annual Review 2018 (PDF)

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