Oklahoma Aquarium Unveils NatureWorks Bronze

MAKING A SPLASH: The Oklahoma Aquarium recently unveiled an original NatureWorks, Inc. bronze for the red slough alligator. Celebrating the unveiling, from left, are Joe and Carol McGraw who funded the project, NatureWorks and Oklahoma Aquarium Foundation Board Member Tiny Tomsen, Oklahoma Aquarium COO and Executive Director Teri Bowers and NatureWorks President John Reaves.

MIRANDA ENZOR for GTR Newspapers

The Oklahoma Aquarium recently became the home of the 17th wildlife bronze monument erected by NatureWorks, Inc. The “Red Slough Alligator” was formally unveiled Nov. 8 in front of the Oklahoma Aquarium entrance.

At 14 feet long and about a half ton in weight, the artwork is a grand addition to the Aquarium campus. It is also a fitting representation of the Aquarium’s collection and its mission statement “Conservation Through Education.” Alligators are a protected species and exist in the wild in southeastern Oklahoma including the Red Slough Wildlife Management Area in McCurtain County. Because of their presence in Oklahoma, alligators are featured in the Aquarium’s “Oklahoma Fishes” gallery.

Funding for the NatureWorks, Inc. bronze was provided by Oklahoma Aquarium Foundation Advisory Board Member Joe McGraw and his wife Carol. NatureWorks, Inc. is a non-profit organization that provides educational opportunities for adults and children to develop an appreciation of sharing our homeland with wildlife. NatureWorks, Inc. President John Reaves, Monuments Chairman John Cowen and Tiny Tomsen, a member of both the NatureWorks Inc. and Oklahoma Aquarium Foundation Boards formally presented the sculpture to the Oklahoma Aquarium. The sculptor of the piece is Scott Shaffer of Grand Junction, Colo.

Since opening in 2003, the Oklahoma Aquarium has continued to expand and update exhibits with one million gallons of water and hundreds of aquatic species including the largest bull sharks in captivity, seen through a unique walk-through tunnel. Visitors can also see and sometimes feed and touch smaller sharks, stingrays, seahorses, octopuses, giant catfish and our first mammals, two adorable beavers. The beavers are the first glimpse of a new exhibit opening soon, the Hayes Family Ozark Stream. It will also feature river otters, raccoons and fish from Oklahoma streams. The Oklahoma Aquarium is also home to the Karl and Beverly White National Fishing Tackle Museum, displaying more than 20,000 pieces of a collection valued at more than $4 million.

For more information call (918) 296-FISH or visit www.okaquarium.org.

Updated 11-26-2007

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