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Our Animal Care and Exhibits Team

Making the Aquarium a comfortable home for the creatures that live here – and a welcoming place for the thousands of people who visit us yearly – takes tremendous behind-the-scenes effort from many dedicated employees and volunteers. We would like to introduce you to some of the people who play a direct role in taking care of our animals and exhibits.

Joseph Yaiullo, Curator/Co-Founder
Todd Gardner, Aquarist
Ann Yaiullo, Director, Training Department
Candy Paparo, Assistant Director of Animal Training
Eli J. Fishman, Exhibits Manager

Joseph Yaiullo

Joseph Yaiullo is one of the world’s most highly regarded Aquarium authorities. He has consulted with many public Aquariums worldwide, and has also presented reef-keeping lectures throughout the United States, Canada, and Europe.

Prior to co-founding the Aquarium, Yaiullo worked with the Riverhead Foundation for Marine Research and Preservation, and served as Exhibits Director at the Okeanos Ocean Research Foundation. While working as a Senior Aquarist with the New York Aquarium, he played an integral role in the design and construction of the 22,000-square foot Discovery Cove building, winner of the 1990 American Zoo and Aquarium Association Certificate of Achievement award.

Yaiullo is a graduate of Southampton College, Long Island University (Southampton, NY).

Todd Gardner

Todd Gardner has been studying marine life since he was old enough to walk. He has an extensive background in marine sciences and has written numerous scientific and popular articles about his research and experiences collecting, keeping, and culturing marine organisms.  

In 1993, he graduated from East Stroudsburg University with a Bachelor of Science degree in biology and marine science. After graduation, he spent a year working for Blue Earth Films, assisting in the production of a National Geographic Explorer feature film about coastal marine life. Todd spent the next three years working at the world's largest marine ornamental fish hatchery, where he worked on developing technology for the production of new marine species. In 1998, Todd left commercial aquaculture to pursue a Master of Science degree in biology at New York's Hofstra University, where he completed a thesis on the early nutrition of the lined seahorse, Hippocampus erectus.

Todd is currently working as an Aquarist, where he cares for a number of exhibit tanks, leads collecting expeditions, and continues his aquaculture research behind the scenes, supervising the Aquarium’s aquaculture program. In his spare time, Todd photographs marine life and plays in a blues band.

Ann Yaiullo
Director, Training Department

Ann Yaiullo began her career with animals as a dog obedience trainer, giving classes and lectures and eventually starting her own business, "Who's the Boss" Dog Training. She then traveled to Moorpark, California to acquire a degree in Exotic Animal Training and Management, working daily at an animal compound with over 150 different species, including her first California sea lion. After Moorpark, she launched her career as a Marine Mammal Trainer at the New York Aquarium, working with California sea lions, harbor and gray seals, bottlenose dolphins, beluga whales, and a Pacific walrus.

Yaiullo joined the staff when harbor seals Max and Cecil, the Aquarium's first two Marine Mammals, arrived in the summer of 2000. Today, she and the rest of the mammal staff have the privilege of training and caring not only for Max and Cecil, but also for Buoy, a female harbor seal; Gray Beauty, a rescued, blind gray seal; and Java and Bunker, two young California sea lions. Also under the mammal staff’s care are Japanese snow monkeys, and assorted reptiles.

 Yaiullo has a BS in Biology from St John's University (Jamaica, NY).

Candy Paparo
Assistant Director of Animal Training

Candy Paparo has been a full-time Marine Mammal Trainer here since 2000, and began working with the Aquarium as a Naturalist aboard the Atlantis Explorer Tour Boat. She is the primary trainer for Gray Beauty and Max, two of our true seals, and trains the California Sea Lions and North American River Otters. She is also responsible for maintenance and water quality of the Aquarium’s marine mammal pools.

Prior to joining the Aquarium, Paparo was the Education and Intern Coordinator at the Woods Hole Science Aquarium/Northeast Fisheries Science Center. She has a BS in Environmental Science from Southampton College, Long Island University (Southampton, NY).

Eli J. Fishman
Exhibits Manager

Eli J. Fishman began working with us as an outside contractor during construction, and was asked to join the Aquarium one year later. As Exhibits Manager, he is responsible for designing, building, and rehabilitating all the exhibits.

Prior to joining the Aquarium, Fishman was a member of the in-house Exhibits Department at the Bronx Zoo, working on the Congo Exhibit. He also served as Senior Exhibits Designer at Roger Williams Park Zoo (Providence, RI). A designer and builder of waterfalls and artificial rock displays in his spare time, Fishman has a BA in Environmental Science/Conservation Biology from Marlboro College (Marlboro, VT).