Seaworld's Marine Mammal Keeper experience - review of an awesome day

Discussion in 'Sea World / Discovery Cove' started by karentan, Sep 16, 2012.

  1. karentan

    karentan <font color=green>my main job for tomorrow is to g

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    My DH booked this for me for my birthday present, when i was trying to figure out what it involved I couldn't find any good recent reviews on this experience :(
    I've been doing a trip report on our holiday but have also copied and pasted it on here too, so anyone thinking of booking this can get a recent review. I did this experience on Saturday 15th September 2012
     
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  3. karentan

    karentan <font color=green>my main job for tomorrow is to g

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    I had to be at seaworld security by 6.30, got up had brekkie, and got to seaworld at 6.15. There was me and one other woman on the tour, Kat from Seattle. At 6.30 out tour guide for the day, Jenna, showed up and took us through security and checked out paperwork and signed disclaimers.
    Our first stop was the "animal husbandry commissary", ie the huge stainless steel kitchen where they store and prep the food for the animals. Some of the husbandry assistants had been there since 3am prepping food and cleaning down the kitchen. Jenna explained that the process is called breakout, there's whiteboards all over the walls explaining what animals get what food every day. There's a ginormous freezer and a chiller in there too, and two huge ice machines to keep the bucketed fish fresh. We prepped food for the day for some of the otters, we had five dishes each and a laminated card states how many fish and shrimp each otter gets at each mealtime. We prepped the fish and the cleaned our work area down.
    Next stop was the backstage manatee pools to give them brekkie, we had three huge boxes of lettuce to give them, they go through a lot of food. Also fed the manatees in the exhibit, there's one in there that's having trouble staying afloat, so it had a little wetsuit to help it float. We had to put some lettuce into a tube type contraption which hung on the side of the pool so the manatee could feed underwater. The other three got lettuce thrown in their pool.
    We went back backstage at that point and saw a rescued pilot whale. Seaworld currently have three more pilot whales in quarantine from a mass stranding two weeks back in the florida keys, but for obvious reasons we couldn't go near them. We did get to see the pilot whale that wasn't in quarantine though, she'd been there since may 2011, and was rescued with another whale that survived, we didn't see that one though. The one we did see was called 300, because that's the number it was assigned when they rescued her, and seaworld don't believe in properly naming an animal until it they are confident it will survive, apparently 300 keeps getting infections and getting ill so she's still nameless
    I thought she was actually really ill when we first got to the tank as she was just floating on the surface and not moving, but as soon as the keeper signalled for her to come over she perked up. We then got to give her a good run down, she loved getting scratched and kept rolling on her back so we could scratch her belly. She has the whale equivalent of scoliosis, as when they were trying to rescue her and in the first few weeks at seaworld she had to be help up and out of the water so stop her from drowning, so her spine has actually bent and her tail bends to the right. The keeper fed her, then we gave her some new enrichment toys to keep her busy, there was a large piece of green material sewn to look like sea kelp, we threw it in and she immediately swam off with it and started spinning around and playing with it, it was so cute
     
  4. karentan

    karentan <font color=green>my main job for tomorrow is to g

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    We then headed off to the otter enclosures, seaworld currently have one pair over at discovery cove. They are sending another pair over on Monday as they are renovating some of the pens. These otters are actually different animals than the ones in the show and aren't actually on public display. They got the brekkie that we prepped that morning, then it must have been loving time because two of them starting getting a bit too friendly one of the pair had a limp anyway because the male was getting a bit too frisky with her!
    After the otters we went and got changed into our wetsuits (this was still only about 8.45 at this point) They suited us up and gave us lockers to store our stuff. We headed over to the dolphin lagoon, the park hadn't even opened by the time we got there. They explained the feeding schedule and how much food every dolphin gets, they have 24 in there, and there's always at least three people around the pool monitoring how much each dolphins gets from the public so they know who's eating.
    We went outside then did some feeding, there was a bucket of fish that me and Kat shared out between the dolphins, the keeper went through some behaviours with us and we got to feed and touch the dolphins. They explained that the dominant male likes to keep the young males in check and he pushes them towards the shallow water at the back and makes them stay there while he gets the food. When he wasn't looking they tried to sneak back out though!
    We then went to the underwater viewing area via the room that holds the toys (on a side note there's a load of dive gear in there, the keepers scuba dive in the pool at least once every two days to clean it, now that's one dive I would love to do!). We headed to the underwater area with two tennis balls, a bubble blower and a set of walking chattering teeth. The dolphins liked the teeth, but one of them was obsessed with trying to catch the tennis ball I was throwing against the glass, it was so cute!
    We headed back to the manatees to give them their spinach for lunch, we got to sit poolside while we fed them, couldn't touch them though they were so awesome
    We went into another food prep area and got to prepare the polar bears brekkie for tomorrow, they'll add the fish and meat tomorrow but we measured out the fruit, food pellets and suet (they get this as a fat source, left our hands really greasy.... Eew)
    We then got to feed and play with a couple of seals, they have the only harp seal in US captivity plus two harbour seals. Sturby the seal came out, but the other one came out then refused to eat or do any training and just sulked off back to his pool. We got to stroke and play with sturby though
    We headed over to the belugas, and got to go out to their backstage pool, we did some behaviours with them, while the keepers fed them, their skin is really bouncy and they can make some really cool vocalisations. Kat got soaked this time round (I got it at the dolphin pool), and we got a beluga kiss, it was wet but cool
    We headed back to the locker room after that, got showered and changed and just got outside as it started to pour with rain.
    Jenna dropped us off at the Terrace garden buffet (used to be the anhauser welcome centre) for lunch, it was a pizza and pasta buffet, was great, the google reports I'd read on the net said they did lunch at the staff canteen so this was a great improvement. We got there at 11.20 and Jenna was going to come back for us at 12.30. We got there before the place opened so got grilled by one of the cooks before we managed to convince her we were supposed to be there. Has a lovely lunch while chatting to Kat
     
  5. karentan

    karentan <font color=green>my main job for tomorrow is to g

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    After lunch we headed over to pacific point preserve to feed the seals and sealions. After seeing the sealions in the backstage area we went out onto the top level of the public area with a bucket of fish each, and got to feed the animals. If you've ever fed the sealions before you'll know that you have to be sneaky to avoid the birds getting the food. This was no exception, we had to throw quick and fast!
    There is an area at the back and bottom of PPP where they hand feed the seals and some of the visually impaired sealions, apparently they're prone to cataracts and some have totally lost their sight.
    After we got backstage again they bought one of the large males into the corridor and we got to pet and stroke him, we also got a sealion kiss. They put him back and then got one of the young females out. She was only ten months old and they showed us some of her training.
    After all that we headed over to wild arctic and got to meet one of the walruses, she's the smaller of the two at 1300 lbs (the male is 3000 lbs!!!) and the keeper fed her. They eat really messily, she slurped every little fish, it sounded like someone sucking the last bit out of a cup with the straw! She gets jello at the end of every feeding as her mum taught her to regurgitate her food and re eat it, the jello is to try and train this behaviour out of her as if she regurgitates the jello it'll just turn to liquid and it's not as satisfying to her.
    After the walruses they took us to one of the pens for the polar bears but they werent in there, so we didn't get to see them . They are the only non contact animal there as they are so dangerous. They had a polar bear pelt in the room for education purposes, their hair is really coarse, kind like a brush.
    Unfortunately our day was over at this point, we got dropped back off and got a DVD and tshirt to remember our awesome day
     
  6. SnoopyDancer

    SnoopyDancer Mouseketeer

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    What an awesome birthday present! I wondered what Keeper for a Day would be like. It sounds like you had a great time. Thanks for sharing!
     
  7. chocolateMinnie

    chocolateMinnie DIS Veteran

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    That sounds like an amazing opportunity. Thanks for posting :)
     
  8. the_princess

    the_princess DIS Veteran

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    Thank you for posting. I'm thinking about doing this on our next trip. What time did it finish? Was the DVD from your day and did you get any pictures?
     
  9. karentan

    karentan <font color=green>my main job for tomorrow is to g

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    we finished about 2.30pm ish, they will drop you back to either the front of the park or into the park, the other woman on my tour got dropped at the parking lot, i got dropped off just backstage by manta.
    the DVD is about careers in conservation, its not of our day unfortunately
    i didnt take a camera because the paperwork says you're not allowed them, but our guide and all the keepers kept asking all day if we had cameras with us, so take one if you go, i'd have LOVED photos if i'd have known i was allowed to take a camera
     
  10. the_princess

    the_princess DIS Veteran

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    Thank you for answering, it sounds like such an amazing experience.
    So there aren't any professional photographers with you doing the day??? What kind of clothes would you recommend to wear?? I know it depends on the season.
     
  11. karentan

    karentan <font color=green>my main job for tomorrow is to g

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    Wear closed toe shoes, and something comfy, you start the day in the fish prep area so don't wear anything you wouldn't risk ruining. I wore trousers and a t shirt.
    Nope and no professional photos, apparently they used to but not any more :(
     
  12. the_princess

    the_princess DIS Veteran

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    Thanks again... It's a shame with the photos. I would love to have some shots from the day.
     

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