Thursday, July 17, 2014
Up close and personal with a sea lion or seal.
Although Parker, the Aquarium’s 700 pound sea lion, is the star of the popular pinniped encounters he is not the only animal ambassador from the seal and sea lion exhibit. His understudies, Harpo the sea lion and Shelby the harbor seal are also ready to meet and greet aquarium guests.
The pinniped encounter at the Aquarium of the Pacific brings guests up close and personal to these impressive animals. And each animal involved in a pinniped encounter brings their own unique style and personality to the session.
The big guy Parker is quite impressive to be near. Having your picture taken next to this large, regal critter makes quite a keepsake for your social media page or living room picture frame.
On the other hand many guests enjoy meeting Parker’s smaller sea lion exhibit mate Harpo. With Harpo it’s all about the personality. Harpo loves to solicit kisses and stick his tongue out to give people random “raspberries”. He is also the most touchable of the sea lions. Harpo really seems to channel the spirit of his namesake. You can’t help but smile after an encounter with him.
A rare and unique animal encounter is with one of the Aquarium’s original pinnipeds. Shelby the harbor seal has been at the Aquarium of the Pacific since the day it opened in 1998. I had the pleasure of training her original animal encounter behaviors several years ago. My favorite is the hug-a-seal behavior which not only allows guests to put their arms around her but also allows our staff to do a thorough tactile inspection of her body. This came in handy during her pregnancies. The bad part of hugging a seal though is that you do have to kneel down. She is also wet so you’ll get wet during a hug. And she does drool like a hound dog.
No matter which animal you meet, the pinniped encounters are a fun way to learn more about seals and sea lions.
There are some restrictions such as age and foot wear requirement for the pinniped encounters. Check with the aquarium for more information.
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