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Groundbreaking July 29 for Center for Wildlife Rescue

Officials broke ground to officially mark the start of construction of the Corpus Christi Center for Wildlife Rescue, part of the Texas State Aquarium’s four-phase master plan. Courtesy photo

$13M threshold reached for funding groundbreaking at latest Texas State Aquarium expansion in Corpus Christi

The Texas State Aquarium recently broke ground on its Corpus Christi Center for Wildlife Rescue, the fourth phase of the aquarium's master plan, after reaching a funding breakthrough. The Dobson Family of Foundations made an extraordinary gift to bring the total contributions to over $13 million, the threshold expected before construction could begin.

“Now that we have reached this important milestone, on behalf of all of our Wildlife Rescue patrons, we are incredibly excited to announce that we will begin construction this month,” said Tom Schmid, CEO and president of the Texas State Aquarium, at the groundbreaking July 29.

In 2020, the Port of Corpus Christi donated $2.5 million to the project. It has hosted the aquarium’s current rehabilitation center on leased property for the past 20 years.

“For many years, Port of Corpus Christi and the Texas State Aquarium have partnered to protect the unique diversity of animal life and seawater habitats that make our region exceptional,” said Charlie Zahn, Port of Corpus Christi Commission chair. “Construction of the new Wildlife Rescue Center will provide unparalleled medical care to Gulf wildlife, and all of us at the port are overjoyed to partner with the aquarium in this noble pursuit.”

The $15 million, 20,000-square-foot center replaces the existing rescue facilities on Rincon Road. The new facility will feature state-of-the-art veterinary medical equipment, an interpretive center, and a multimedia theater.

The aquarium’s goal is to increase capacity for wildlife rescue and response, facilitate learning for veterinary medical students and veterinary technologists, and foster a better understanding for what the public can do to help protect wildlife. Upon completion of the facility, visitors will have access to viewing the treatment and rehabilitation of thousands of shorebirds, raptors (birds of prey), marine mammals, and sea turtles.

“This is another proud and meaningful moment in the Port of Corpus Christi’s longstanding relationship with the Texas State Aquarium,” said Sean Strawbridge, CEO for the Port of Corpus Christi. “Since 1994, we have supported the aquarium’s exhibit and rescue programs and contributed to scholarships for Sea Camp. Further, we remain committed to maintaining high standards in water quality and, thereby, rendering the aquarium one of the few port-city aquariums that can draw seawater from the bay for its exhibits.”

Other major contributors to this program are the city of Corpus Christi, the ExxonMobil Foundation, Catherine and Bob Hilliard, the state of Texas, the Brown Foundation, and the Earl C. Sams Foundation.

With the support of these and other important donors, the aquarium will reach its four-phased master plan developed prior to 1990 when the center opened to provide a Gulf of Mexico exhibit building, a marine mammal exhibition, a Caribbean wing, and a research, education, and conservation center.

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