The New England Aquarium has received a $3 million gift from the New Balance Foundation to help build the New Balance Foundation Marine Mammal Center and to develop innovative programs using seals and sea lions to promote childhood fitness.

As the Aquarium’s newest signature exhibit, the New Balance Foundation Marine Mammal Center is designed to provide up-close visitor interaction with these truly amazing creatures. The Aquarium is planning to begin construction in the fall of 2008 with a grand opening in the spring of 2009 to coincide with the Aquarium’s 40th anniversary.

During the second phase of this unique partnership, the New Balance Foundation “Get Your Feet Wet” programs will promote childhood activity and fitness by connecting kids to some of the most charismatic and athletic animals in the natural world – marine mammals. The program will feature a sea lion fitness mascot, custom sea lion fun and fitness sessions for kids and their families, and a special week-long program at the Aquarium’s summer camp called the New Balance Foundation’s Marine Mammal Maniacs.

“As the Aquarium moves forward with plans to build our new marine mammal center, the New Balance Foundation gift provides a crucial funding boost necessary for this exciting new facility,” says Aquarium President & CEO Bud Ris. “This partnership is a wonderful and natural fit for both organizations”.

“The New Balance Foundation is committed to encouraging childhood fitness and activity, and there is no better way to connect children to nature and the outdoors than through animals,” says Anne Davis, Managing Trustee of the New Balance Foundation. “Our partnership with the New England Aquarium through the new marine mammal center will help kids get moving and active through exposure to some of the most engaging sea animals on the planet”.

The New Balance Foundation is a long-term supporter of the New England Aquarium, particularly its programs with children. The Boston-based Foundation was a Founding supporter of the Aquarium’s Harbor Discoveries Camp as well as its Future Leaders for a Blue Planet program. New Balance Athletic Shoe, Inc. is a long-time member of the Aquarium’s Corporate Partner program.