In celebration of National Zoo & Aquarium month in June and World Ocean Day on June 8, Amy Guth from WGN Radio interviewed Co-Founder Romney Cirillo to talk about Mobile Aquatic Therapy.

175 million people visit U.S. zoos and aquariums each year.

In talking with hospital staff while doing aquarium systems within those hospitals, we found out that there were children that weren’t able to leave their room due to medical conditions or immune systems. We decided why not bring something to them which is where mobile aquatic therapy was created which is a state-of-the-art hospital grade mobile aquarium that can travel to wherever it is needed most.

Amy found the therapeutic aspect of this very interesting and admits, just as many do when thinking of bringing any kind of creature into the hospital, think of a dog but they can’t interact with every person in a hospital.

We didn’t even realize that as we were developing our product that we were basically getting side by side with AAT (assisted animal therapy). AAT utilizes mainly dogs but some bring small horses and small farm animals. Our service is more versatile, by being well-wrapped and thus, more hygienic.

Something Fishy likes to take a more creative spin and think outside of the box, so we wanted to offer a lot more than just the program and aquarium. What is a better way to connect with the kids and have the experience be more relatable? A mascot of course! We created a personality to go along with the aquarium. Mat (named after the MAT program) is our 70% aquatic and 30% human mascot. The aquarium itself is the showstopper and the whole point of the program. We plan to implement Mat into coloring and activity sheets as a way for us to tie it in and make it really engaging for the children as they’re enjoying the aquarium in their rooms.

Fairly new project but what has the feedback been as you’re rolling it out in children’s hospitals? I would think right away this would be something exciting & visual for kids.

It’s hard for anybody not to turn their heads – doctors, staff, nurses, child life. People just in & out of the hospital on a daily basis. To realize that this is not just an aquarium but one that can roll down the hallway just brings it to the next level.

Such a joy to see in that environment where there is so much fret & worry. You’ve taken a lot of care in its construction to not only have it meet hospital standards but also in sourcing the materials to make that reef inside of it.

That’s where we’ve had a lot of fun. Our company has painstakingly worked on the outside to stay up to code with infection control and the powers that be to keep the hospital safe and required standards. For us it’s also important to be ethical and environmentally-responsible so the inside that makes it looks so colorful, other than the fish themselves of course, are custom artificially-made inserts. One of our manufacturing partners is Poseidon Construction in CA. People would recognize their work in places such as Rainforest Café, T-Rex Café in Disneyworld. We worked closely with them and they made an insert that fills every nook and cranny of the cube-shaped aquarium to really give that depth. Watching the fish swim in and out of the corals really adds to that effect.