Today Meagan Nadal and Katie Finch—two of the mammalogists who take care of sea lions Parker, Harpo, and Milo, and harbor seals Shelby, Troy, and Ellie—are here to update you about all of the behind-the-scenes work that went into renovations and how the lovable pinnipeds are enjoying their new home.
When you visit the newly renovated Seal and Sea Lion Habitat, it may not seem that much has changed. But as they say, the magic is in the details! Many changes were made to the exhibit that not only make it a better place for the animals, but also enhance your experience as a visitor.
The first thing you will notice is the fancy curved window at the California Terrace area on the second floor where our sea lions to get closer to you than ever before. Milo in particular wasted no time in checking out his new “stage” and performing for the guests who were watching him. No surprises there, as he’s one of our more uninhibited animals!
However, even the less adventurous animals like Parker—who we lovingly call The Big Chicken—were eager to explore their newly renovated home. They immediately took to the water for a swim and seem to enjoy the new décor including a large seascape mural painted at the back of the exhibit.
Speaking of that mural, a special shout-out to goes to Exhibit Graphic Designer Alice Hsieh, the Aquarium’s talented artist who painted the beautiful seascape. If you are able to get a closer look, you’ll see smaller wildlife details.
Overall, the rockwork in the exhibit got a huge facelift. If you can get past Milo striking a pose for the camera, then you can see how beautiful the new terrain looks. You might also notice some of the vegetation that we’ve added around the exhibit to make it look more natural.
Not only do the rocks look great, but also they were redesigned to give everyone a better view of the animals in the exhibit. Troy has fallen in love with the new ledge in front of our outdoor seating area. You will often find him there engaging with our curious young visitors.
Also, folks sitting in Café Scuba now have a better view of the animals. There’s nothing like dining with your loved ones while taking in a seal and sea lion show!
Another big change is that the holding area on the right side of the exhibit is now a lot larger.
Before the renovation, it was tough to perform session training. The open layout made it hard for staff members to isolate an animal from the rest of the group. Now that we have a separate holding area, we can focus on one individual animal without the others getting jealous or distracted.
The holding area also has a new pool where the animals love to hang out.
Our favorite aspect from the remodel is the changes to the beach, which is an area in the middle that connects one side of the exhibit to the other.
Previously, this area was covered by a few inches of water so you had to be careful about where you set down your bucket or it would float away. Also, if you had one tiny hole in your boot, then your foot would be drenched immediately!
Now that it’s a dry space it’s easier for us to access the area and feed the animals. Equally important, the slope of the new beach area is not as steep, so the older animals can access it with ease.
As you can see, Parker and the rest of the animals are all smiles and love their newly renovated habitat. We hope you’ll come visit him and the rest of our pinniped family soon!