New England Aquarium, Boston, Play with Marine Mammals
The New England Aquarium lets you play with their sea lions and seals. In the last few years a number of animal rescue groups and traditional aquariums have hit on the idea of, well, basically, pimping out their animals. You pay a little extra and get a little extra contact, how much depends on how much you pay.
The New England Aquarium has two programs. For $30 you can feed seals, but for $125 you get to help feed, entertain and train sea lions, seals and maybe a large turtle.
It’s a small group–just three–and the real trainers are incredibly gracious in letting you enjoy the fun part of their job. Still, I felt a little bit idiotic since it was me and two kids. (They say it’s about half and half adults to kids. And that often parents bring kids, but it’s obviously really for mom or dad.)
We started off with the sea lions, who are soon leaving for Brookfield Zoo in Chicago. We got to see the sea lions’ kitchen and warm indoor pool. When we went outside, the sea lions, Guthrie, an 838 pound mush, and Ballou, a younger, smaller and more shy sea lion.
Guthrie watches the crowds and came by as soon as we walked in–assuming it was feeding time. We got to feel his thick wet fur, massive fins. We each put fish in his mouth, which was big but full of worn down, black teeth so not intimidating. Plus the trainers exude comfort and confidence and Guthrie is very gentle and good-natured. He gave us each a kiss–really just pressed his massive whiskered nose to our face. It was like a 30 pound dog nose that left a trail of slime. Still, very fun.
The training sessions with them are in front of the crowd, so again, a little embarrassing to have paid to the be the adult volunteer among kids, but still totally worth it.
The seals were much more shy, though very excited to get their fish.