Avery Hayes just turned five years old, and already she is one of the Aquarium’s most generous philanthropists and dedicated conservationists.

Seeing how much she lights up from within every time she visits the Aquarium makes it easy for her parents Jennifer and Niles to encourage her passion. They began bringing her here when she was in a stroller, and after seeing how much she loved the animals, became members.

While she loves all the exhibits, marine mammals are Avery’s favourite. A few years ago, the family decided to come to the Aquarium for Valentine’s Day. Jennifer had Avery make Valentine’s cards for everyone she loves. Naturally, Grandma and Grandpa and Mom and Dad got cards, but Jennifer was surprised when Avery also made one for Daisy, one of our rescued harbour porpoises.

Off the family went to deliver the card to Daisy, only to find that the harbour porpoise habitat was being cleaned and Daisy was nowhere to be seen. Fearing that they might need to break some hard news to her, Niles set out to find out what was happening. They learned that Daisy was behind the scenes temporarily and when they spoke to staff about the card Avery had made, they met Manvir P., a member of the Visitor Experience team and a Duty Manager. When Manvir saw the little girl with the big red heart in her hands, tears streaming down her face and lips quivering, he was determined to make her day.

Manvir worked with Bobbie C., our marine mammal coordinator, and Dr. Marty Haulena, our head veterinarian, to find a solution. They ended up taking Avery and her parents to Daisy in the research area, where she was reassured that Daisy was fine (and in fact had just finished eating!).

Avery and her parents pay a special visit to rescued harbour porpoise Daisy one Valentine's Day. Photo credit: Jennifer and Niles Hayes.

Avery and her parents pay a special visit to rescued harbour porpoise Daisy one Valentine’s Day. Photo credit: Jennifer and Niles Hayes.

Daisy and all of the Aquarium’s animals have inspired and engaged Avery, and she continues to learn more about conservation and what individuals can do to make positive change in our aquatic world. Every year, she participates in both the spring and fall Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup and always reminds her mom to sign them up.

Because of this love for marine mammals, each year, Avery asks to make donations to the Aquarium’s Marine Mammal Rescue Centre. This year, she raised $100 for the Rescue Centre! Her parents have helped Avery understand the importance of philanthropy from an early age, as they are involved with a few other important causes close to their hearts. Avery’s grandfather has multiple sclerosis, and her mom, Jennifer has lupus. While Avery is also involved in these causes, the one closest to her heart is the Rescue Centre. She has attended the annual summer celebration, singing to the baby seals who were being tube fed. She also counts both Dr. Marty and Bobbie C. as her idols.

With Avery now being of school age, she is learning new words and interacting with new friends. One of these words is “cool.” Her mom overheard her recently talking to another little girl. That friend said, “Barbie [the doll] is really cool.” Avery agreed, but had a different take on cool. Her response: “Sure, Barbie is cool, but Dr. Marty is waaaaay cooler!” While her friend wasn’t sure who Dr. Marty was, that story put a smile on all of our faces here.

Avery and all of our donors are an inspiration to the entire Aquarium team of staff and volunteers. Their passion and generosity helps fund all of the incredible conservation, research and education work that we do and they act as Ambassadors for us around the world.

Thank you very much for all that you do. Learn more about how to support our work here.

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3 Responses

  1. Andrea

    The entire Hayes family is inspiring and Avery is a particularly incredible little girl.


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