Thursday, April 08, 2010
I first met Parker when he came to the Aquarium way back in 2003. Then he was a tiny, playful little sea lion pup. He was so little back then that he used to crawl underneath the wheels of a transport kennel that was kept in his holding pen next to the chain link fence surrounding the pad. He did this so that he could peer out at the staff waiting outside the enclosure. The open kennel was in the pen to help desensitize him to his eventual transport to the main exhibit. There must have been only about a foot of clearance under the kennel so you can get an idea just how small he once was.
One of Parker’s favorite toys when he was a pup was a blue ball that he liked to bat around on the deck with his long front flippers like a soccer player. A fun enrichment activity for volunteers back then was to roll the ball toward him on the deck and watch him bat the ball back toward you. Enrichment activities are used by the staff to keep the animal’s environment interesting (and fun) for them. Parker at this time of his life was a bit awkward and occasionally would try to bat the ball while sitting next to the pool, miss, and then have his momentum carry him into the water with a big splash which sometimes also got the volunteer wet.
My, how that sea lion has grown! Today in 2010 Parker towers over the staff when he stands up on his hind flippers. The once awkward little sea lion pup is today an impressive large muscular young adult. And the amazing part is that he is not yet fully grown. It’s been a lot of fun watching Parker grow up.
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