If you’ve ever been to a sea lion show at the zoo, you know that the zoo’s sea lions are trained to display lots of cool animal behaviors. They are not, however, trained to wash windows and vacuum the beach. That’s why zoo keepers Sarah Cox and Chris Woodard donned wetsuits, goggles, and snorkeling gear during a recent day on the job.
The two entered the water and got right to work while guests watched. Cox brought along a small ladder and window-washing supplies and Woodard used a long vacuum hose.
Fishbone and Grits were in the water with the zoo keepers that day. The animals swam close Cox and Woodard and even splashed and vocalized, getting the attention of the keepers and the crowd. Cox describes the experience, “It’s definitely a great experience being in the same medium as the sea lions. They are great when we are in the water with them, but we always have to be aware of where they are.” Cox also shared that she enjoys getting some personal time in with the animals.
Though they enjoy the task, cleaning sea lion beach is hard work. Woodard explains, “We vacuum Sea Lion Beach once a week. We try to vacuum out as much debris as possible. Sea Lion Beach is quite similar to your local pool. It needs to be cleaned frequently even though we have a very large filtration system attached to the exhibit. Vacuuming [the beach] is a really exhausting task but it always proves to be a fun chore.”
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