Hugh's Aquarium Views Video Number 65
Outside of the Aquarium of the Pacific’s staff entrance sits a memorial to the very first Aquarium animal. The first Aquarium critter wasn’t a fish or seal. It was, surprisingly, a cat named Topaz.
I first met Topaz back in 1997 during a VIP tour of the construction work being done on the future Aquarium. According to some of the original Aquarium staff, the story goes that as they were beginning to build, they ran into a young feral cat that refused to vacate its little plot of land on the construction site, despite all the work going around him. Nothing they could do would make the orange tabby, who they named Topaz, leave. So the kindhearted workers worked around the cat’s little homestead. You could honestly say that the Aquarium of the Pacific was built around Topaz. Eventually, Topaz became less feral and took up residence in one of the construction office trailers. This is where I first met him while waiting for my tour of the construction site to begin.
When the Aquarium of the Pacific was finished Topaz moved into the staff offices, where he made the transition from feral cat to office kitty. For eighteen years the orange tabby greeted the staff arriving for their work shift, making them feel welcomed into “his” Aquarium. How could he not think of it as his kingdom? He had his own private veterinarian, waiters, and housekeepers to care for his needs. I was one of the folks tasked on Saturdays to make sure that his “office” was clean and had food and fresh water.
It was also a morning ritual for me every Saturday to give Topaz a quick scratch before starting my volunteer shift. Topaz did such a great job as the Aquarium’s unofficial greeter that after he passed away the staff put up a memorial to him at the staff entrance. You could say that in a way this special cat is still welcoming the staff to his Aquarium.