Thursday, August 16, 2007
Imagine swimming with a sea lion whose eyes gaze upon you with a sense of fond familiarity, being hip deep in the water holding a cranky old sea turtle, sitting with a small kangaroo-like critter on your lap in the fresh night air, cradling a delicate shorebird in your hands, having a half-dozen colorful parrot-like birds land on you just because they like your company, being the chauffeur for an animal that looks like a cross between a bear and a cat as he’s towed through the aquarium on a kiddie wagon, having some super fast squirrels climb all over you as you try to feed them, and the joy of enriching the life of an elderly, blind seal by teaching her how to find and retrieve an object tossed into the water—bringing play back into her day.
These are just a few of the wonderful experiences I’ve been fortunate to have as a husbandry volunteer with the Aquarium of the Pacific.
I’ve been volunteering my Saturdays with the mammal and bird department since just a few weeks before the Aquarium of the Pacific’s Grand Opening in 1998.
My official title in the department is volunteer marine mammal trainer, which means I am one of the few volunteers allowed to train new behaviors to the seals and sea lions. It also means that I am the jack-of-all-trades of the department. On a typical Saturday, I may be the waiter for the seals and sea lions, the sushi chef for the sea otters, the baby-sitter for a newly arrived bird, the paparazzi of a photogenic animal, and the pooper-scooper for the many well fed mammals and birds of the Aquarium.
In these blogs, I hope to share some my experiences with, and images of the aquarium’s critters and folks. Stories and photos that will hopefully entertain by giving the reader a look at what it’s like working on the “wet” side of the Aquarium.
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All blogs and comments represent the views of the individual authors and not necessarily those of the Aquarium.