As of last week, the grand opening to the Idaho Falls aquarium has been delayed to an unspecified future date due to the recent hurricanes affecting Florida and the gulf coast.
Hurricanes Irma and Harvey, which made landfall along the gulf coast earlier this month, prevented the transport of the aquariums’ final batch of jellyfish, sharks, seahorses and cuttlefish. With transport backed up, Arron Faires, CEO, founder of East Idaho Aquarium and a BYU-Idaho alumnus, and his colleagues have not been able to set a new opening date but hope to get the aquarium up and running sometime in the next few weeks.
While at school in Rexburg, Faires noticed a need for something like an aquarium and decided that the nearby city of Idaho Falls would be the perfect place. Faires put his plan into motion in 2013 but had trouble with funding and sponsors.
It wasn’t until February if this year that the aquarium really took off. Once a building was found and underwent renovation, donors and sponsors jumped on board.
Faires said opening an aquarium has always been a lifelong dream of his, but he also wants to educate the community on delicate underwater ecosystems.
Faires said that they want people to understand the importance of protecting our waters and not introducing invasive species.
“If those invasive species are introduced, they could kill the native species which would cause dire consequences,” Faires said. “It’s similar to the ocean, where if a native species of fish are killed, it could end up causing part of the reef to die, thus killing more animals.”
Faires said over the past few months, the East Idaho Aquarium has been gaining a lot of traction on social media with people in the communities.
“It feels good to have the communities support,” Faires said. “We hope to have those Facebook numbers turn into real people who will come to visit. … we hope for 100,000 visitors within a year.”
Faires explained that at first, they expect attendance to be slow but hope through word of mouth, more and more people will know about the aquarium and want to come visit.
“When you come through the aquarium, everything you see was made possible by the community,” Faires said. “All of this was built with donations from our community sponsors. It’s overwhelming to think that people believed in this so much they donated money and their time to make this a reality. Everything in here was made by someone from this community. It’s amazing.”
As a BYU-I student, Faires studied ecology before changing his major to business management, which both ended up helping him immensely in creating his aquarium.
“I want to give a big shout out to the BYU-Idaho students,” Faires said. “I have several employees who study there and they are very hard workers and are great people to work with.”
He also wanted to give advice to all of the current BYU-I students, to never be afraid to fail.
“When I was going to school, one of the biggest things that was driven into us was to not be afraid to fail,” Faires said. “We have a saying at the aquarium: ‘We don’t make mistakes.’ When things don’t go how we want them it gives us the opportunity to be creative.”