Life in a Fishbowl: Confessions of an Aquarium Director


262 pages
Contains Photos, Index
ISBN 1-55054-125-0
DDC 597'.0074'71133





Reviewed by Patrick Colgan

Patrick Colgan is associate director of programs at the Canadian Museum
of Nature.


The Vancouver Aquarium has grown into a major institution over the past
40 years. In this book, its director for those decades effectively
recounts the ups and downs of working with fascinating animals, a
fascinated public, colorful peers in the aquarium realm, and a swirl of
trustees, politicians, and bureaucrats. Subsequent chapters describe the
origins of the Aquarium; operational details of plumbing and personnel;
successes with sponsorships; relations with the community, conservation
groups, and the media; expansions of public exhibits, facilities, and
research into new groups of animals from new regions; and excursions to
many parts of the globe in order to extend the scope of the Aquarium.
Prominent in this material are the endeavors with whales, the
significance of fundraising, and such community issues as relations with
Stanley Park and the impact of the celebrated Haida sculpture.

This personal and good-humored account does not deal explicitly with
such issues as the overall social role of aquaria, their history, and
conservation matters, or with such controversies as the ethics of
keeping captive whales in aquaria. The book is significantly enhanced by
black-and-white and color plates, but is so tightly bound that it must
be forcibly opened.

Newman’s story will appeal to those interested in general zoology,
cultural institutions, and the regional history of British Columbia.


Newman, Murray A., “Life in a Fishbowl: Confessions of an Aquarium Director,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed June 13, 2024,