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Back in January, shortly after rescued and rehabilitated sea otter Wally moved from the Aquarium’s Marine Mammal Rescue Centre to his new, permanent home at the Aquarium, we received an email from Dan Maggiacomo, Vice-Principal of the W. Ross Macdonald School for the Blind and Visually Impaired. One of school’s teachers had seen media coverage about Wally, rescued after being blinded by gunshot wounds, and forwarded it among the faculty and staff at the school, who instantly connected with Wally’s story.

W. Ross Macdonald School is Canada’s only school for the blind, and for the school’s entire 142-year history, its mascot has been an otter! Coupled with the fact that Walter Gretzy has been one of W. Ross Macdoald School’s strongest supporters for the past 30 years, Wally’s (Walter’s) story really resonated with the students, faculty and staff.

A wishing well for Wally, complete with a "Donate" plea and a replica doll of a sea otter. Photo credit: W. Ross Macdonald School.

A wishing well for Wally, complete with a “Donate” plea and a replica doll of a sea otter. Photo credit: W. Ross Macdonald School.

The students began a series of fundraising events to support Wally’s ongoing care here at the Aquarium. They made a number of products in their woodshop to sell – including a mini wheel-barrow full of flowers that was sold for Mother’s Day, and a wishing well, which was used to support a change drive.

After the change drive, they auctioned off the well and added the proceeds to the Wally Fund. The senior students opened a French-style café, complete with coffee, tea and pastries, which were sold to raise funds. All in all, the students, with support from their teachers, faculty and friends, raised $447 for Wally’s care.

We are very fortunate to have so many individuals and groups raise funds on behalf of the Aquarium. As a not-for-profit society dedicated to the conservation of aquatic life, every gift makes a difference and enables us to continue running our conservation, research and education programs. We are so grateful and touched by the support from the students at W. Ross, as well as all the other donors who work so hard to raise funds for us. Thank you!

The Aquarium’s Marine Mammal Rescue Centre is a hospital for sick, injured and stranded marine mammals, and it sees more than 100 patients annually. To learn how to support the Rescue Centre’s efforts, visit here.

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8 Responses

  1. Vivian

    I am so moved by this. What a wonderfully giving body of students and faculty. You have made such a difference to one little otter.

  2. Sandie

    What a wonderful story – those students and teachers and families did a great job. Wally is one special otter.

  3. Laura Handfield

    This is a wonderfully inspiring story. My brother and I are each going to match your $447.00 donation when we go to visit Wally on June 22nd.

    Way to go!


    • Vancouver Aquarium

      Laura, we are rendered speechless by your generosity and support! We are excited to let the school know of your matching donations, and one of our team members will reach out to you shortly as well. Huge thanks again for you amazing support for Wally!

  4. Samantha

    Wow, what an amazing story. Kudos to W. Ross Macdonald School for all their hard work to help Wally!

    • Vancouver Aquarium

      It’s an amazing story, and we are encouraged and inspired with the actions of the students and teachers as well. Thanks for your kind words!


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