This year, I asked my Mom and Dad to help me buy presents for the penguins of Mystic Aquarium instead of giving me presents for myself. I love penguins and I believe in animal rights, so I thought the penguins needed presents this holiday season. We asked the trainers what kinds of toys are safe for penguins. They said enrichment items are really important for animals at aquariums and suggested we get bubbles, finger paints (they use the paints to help train the penguins to show their feet to the trainers), rubber bath toys and a piano. We had a lot of fun shopping for the penguins, but it was even better to deliver the toys to the aquarium today (Dec. 21).
When we first entered the aquarium, we were met by the penguin training staff and two penguins. It was so great to meet all the people that help the penguins both at Mystic and in Africa. One of the reasons I like to support Mystic Aquarium is because they send penguin trainers (like Tracy and Josh) to Africa to help penguins in the wild. I learned a lot about how important it is to respect animal habitats, minimize our impact on the environment by reusing and recycling and protecting our oceans.
Next up, I got a surprise greeting from Juno, one of the Beluga whales. Juno held a sign that said, “Welcome Zach.” It was great.
Although the day was awesome all around, I really enjoyed going to the penguin exhibit. I saw the behind the scenes where pairs of penguins are nesting - I even saw an egg. Next I played piano for the penguins and blew some bubbles. There was a group of school kids there and they sang “Jingle Bells” for the penguins. Mystic Aquarium is a great place to learn about marine animals, so I hope a lot of school kids visit.
The next amazing thing that happened was a skype chat with Princess (an African Black Footed Penguin) and Tammy, one of people that works at the South African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds (SANCCOB) in South Africa. She talked about what we can do in America to help penguins and how important it is to raise awareness about them and what is happening to them. Tracy, one of the trainers at Mystic, was recently in Africa. You can check out her blog here.
Next, we spent some time in the penguin encounter room with Josh, Dale and Jeanne. We learned what it takes to run an aquarium. It takes a lot of volunteers, staff and donations to make everything run well. Donations always help, but there are more ways you can help. Visiting is a way to help and the more people that visit, the better. We also learned what it takes to be an animal trainer, but I will write more about that in a future blog post.
In conclusion, I had a very amazing time at Mystic Aquarium. Everyone was so nice and knew so much about penguins. They really inspired me to do more than I already have. I hope this post about my visit has also inspired you, because we all need to work together to help the penguins and take care of our planet.
Special thanks to all the people at Mystic Aquarium that made my visit possible.