Thursday, February 26, 2009
A new voice can be heard in the Seal and Sea Lion Exhibit at the Aquarium of the Pacific.
No, there’s not a new animal in the waters of the exhibit. Instead, a new voice has been introduced because Parker the sea lion has finally discovered his “Big Boy” bark.
When Parker was first taught to vocalize on command, he was a young sea lion and thus gave a “little boy” bark that always sounded a bit raspy and immature. Always eager to please, Parker continued to give this pup-like bark every time he was asked to speak even after he grew into an adult and should have had a deeper voice. It was almost embarrassing to hear this wimpy vocalization coming from such a large, buffed California sea lion. Parker thought this little boy voice was what the trainers wanted so it really wasn’t his fault that he didn’t make a booming bark like our older sea lion Miller makes when asked.
Well finally one day a staff member heard him give out an adult bark while Parker was working on the hierarchy of the exhibit by barking at the younger sea lions Milo and Harpo. The trainer managed to “capture” this adult vocalization by encouraging and rewarding the bark as it occurred. Using a different set of hand commands than the little boy bark Parker soon learned to give this new voice when called upon to bark.
So the next time you come to watch a sea lion presentation, look for Parker and his trainer. When the trainer cups his or her hand to their ear, listen for a big booming bark because Parker the sea lion has finally found his “Big Boy” bark.
Press play or double click the video below (if you don’t see controls) to listen to Parker’s “Big Boy” bark.
Just for Fun
Since the Aquarium’s sea lions Parker, Milo, Harpo and Miller all know how to bark on command, the staff is thinking of having some fun and having them all line up and bark together in sort of a pinniped singing group. And since a singing group needs a great band name, we’ve been trying to come up with a few.
Here are a few ideas from staff and friends:
- THE FOUR SEA LIONS
- THE THREE TENORS (Parker, Milo and Harpo) AND THE BASS (Miller)
- ZZ PUPS
If anyone out there has some more fun ideas for the name of this sea lion singing quartet, please feel free to pass them along in the comment section.
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