Building on its mission to inspire stewardship by creating experiences where history and rivers come alive, the National Mississippi River Museum & Aquarium has constructed a new Conservation Lab in its National Rivers Center building. The lab highlights and details numerous conservation efforts with local, national, and international ties. A Project Piaba aquarium welcomes visitors into the Conservation Lab and highlights a sustainable tropical aquarium fishery in the Rio Negro area of the Amazon that provides sustainable livelihoods for the local population, and in turn, encourages them to protect the Amazon rainforest. Included in the space is information on how guests can personally “buy a fish and save a tree” through their own home aquarium.
The lab portion of the exhibit tells the story of the Museum & Aquarium’s efforts in propagating logperch for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). Logperch are small fish that are tied to the life cycle of certain freshwater mussels, one of the Museum & Aquarium’s primary conservation efforts. The progeny of these logperch will be used by USFWS to propagate the federally endangered snuffbox mussel.
Additional space created within the Conservation Lab will also enable the Museum & Aquarium to display previously unseen animals like never before, highlighting other in-house conservation efforts on a rotating basis. Initially, juvenile upside-down jellyfish and yellow stingrays, both born over the last few months, will be on display for guests. These animals are too young to be integrated into other aquariums on campus, so the Conservation Lab provides an alternative location to share these unique animals.
Tying all areas of the exhibit together are two murals by local artist Adam Eikamp. The project was made possible with support from the Roy J. Carver Charitable Trust, Alliant Energy Foundation, Association for Zoos & Aquariums Education Conservation grant, Project Piaba, and the City of Dubuque Arts & Culture Special Projects.
The Conservation Lab celebrated a ribbon cutting on November 14. The Conservation Lab will be open during regular business hours and is included in the price of general admission.