Philanthropy can never start too early. That’s the message that one of our youngest donors, Ben Thibault, age eight, has inspired here at the Vancouver Aquarium Marine Science Centre.

It was on one of Ben’s regular visits to the Aquarium as a member with his family, where Ben first learned about Wally’s story. Wally, a sea otter, was rescued as a badly injured animal that was blinded by gunshot blast. He spent over a year in treatment and rehabilitation at our Marine Mammal Rescue Centre, presented by Port Metro Vancouver, before moving to his permanent home at the Vancouver Aquarium.

Ben decided he would hold a “toonie” party for his eighth birthday this past July to raise money to help fund Wally’s ongoing care. Afterwards he visited the Aquarium to present the gift to staff. The card that Ben made brought many smiles (and tears) to our team.

When asked why Ben wanted to donate to Wally he wrote back to our team and said, “He’s a cool creature and he is so cute and fluffy. He’s a very nice animal and I don’t know why someone shot him with shot gun pellets. I hope Wally is getting taken care of good.”

Donations for Wally the sea otter.

Ben made our animal care team a special card for Wally.

A little over a month later, Ben arrived back at the Aquarium with his family. He had received a $50 gift card for his birthday, but rather than splash out on a toy for himself, he sold it to his mom and donated the money to Wally’s care.

Our marine mammal team was so touched by Ben’s selflessness that they offered to bring him behind the scenes to feed the sea otters. It was an experience that he won’t soon forget – and he was able to see first-hand the impact that his donations make. Ben has not only served as an inspiration to all of us here, but he is now encouraging his younger sister, Riley, age seven, to become a budding young philanthropist herself. Riley told our animal care staff, “I like Wally because he is cute and I feel bad for him. I wanted to help Wally because he got shot from shot gun pellets. I hope he feels better.”

Wally the sea otter recieves ongoign care at the Vancouver Aquarium

Ben, sister Riley and their family visit the sea otters at the Aquarium.

Many of our animals, like Wally, have stories that inspire us every day to continue our work to conserve aquatic life. So too do our donors, like Ben and his sister Riley, it is a privilege to get to know their stories as well. Each and every gift makes a difference and helps to fund our wide array of conservation, research and education programs.

Thank you to all our donors for supporting aquatic conservation and helping the rescue and rehabilitation of animals like Wally.

Learn about different ways you can support the Vancouver Aquarium by visiting us online today.

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2 Responses

  1. Pat

    I love this story. Good for Ben and his family. This is really what the Aquarium is all about. It’s amazing how the young members feel about the residents of the Aquarium. We should all learn from these youngsters.


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