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Hugh’s View of the Aquarium of the Pacific

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Animal Updates | Birds | Mammals

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.

Hugh’s View of the Aquarium of the Pacific
Here, Hugh goes through a training session with Miller, one of our male California sea lions.  | © Michelle Sousa

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Friday, August 17, 2007 07:11 PM

That is such a cute photo of Hugh and the padamelon. And I love how you write! I can’t wait to read more.

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Linda de Ambrosio

Wednesday, August 22, 2007 11:51 PM

Thanks for sharing the info, Hugh, and for keeping me updated on the staff and animals which are near and dear.  I miss all of you & I think I am due for a visit soon.

Say hello to everyone, especially Miller:)

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Laurie Abshire-Richey

Thursday, August 23, 2007 03:01 PM

Hey Alexi, Linda and Hugh….
It is always nice to hear and see familiar faces.This is a great idea..good job!!
Since I left the AOP in February 07, I have tried to stay in contact with my friends in the “Mammal Department” I miss the “old timer volunteers” and hope not to be forgotten. Keep up the good work Hugh, Alexi and Aloha Linda,...hope you are all doing well.
Aloha Nui Loa

Hugh's avatar


Friday, August 24, 2007 12:39 PM

Alexi, Laurie, Linda,

Thanks for visiting the blog site.
Hopefully we can keep everyone updated on what is going on at the Aquarium of the Pacific via these blogs.
I will have Miller give a big sea lion bark in honor of all of you.

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Tuesday, September 11, 2007 09:53 PM


It is great to see that you are still volunteering with the Husbandry Dept! I was a Saturday volunteer diver….(am shift.. way back in the day of opening of the aquarium!) I hope all is well.!

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Thursday, September 13, 2007 04:36 PM

Hi Denise,

I remember you and the rest of the Saturday dive team back in the day. 

I think you’re all burned into my memory because during that first summer when I accidentally slipped into the water with my bucket of fish in my hand, my boots on my feet, and Shelby the harbor seal diving for cover, most of the weekend dive team had chosen that morning to watch the feed.

Needless to say that for many years the Saturday divers never let me forget that moment.


All blogs and comments represent the views of the individual authors and not necessarily those of the Aquarium.

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