July 23, 2021
- as seen by -Sarah Rashed
Pickles is a 13-year-old male Atlantic harbor seal (Phoca vitulina) that lives at WCS’s New York Aquarium and is one of the newest stars in the Aquatheater’s Sea Lion Celebration show.
He may be one of the smallest and most shy members of the show, but our crowd instantly falls in love with him when he bounces across the stage. Having Pickles participate gives us an opportunity to point out the differences between seals and sea lions and to show off all of Pickles’ amazing capabilities. It’s also a great way for us to connect New Yorkers to a marine mammal that is found right off of our coast.
In Pickles’ free time he enjoys ice treats, swimming around our show pool, using his problem-solving skills to get fish out of enrichment toys, and chasing around our smallest California sea lion pup, Erie.
Pickles thrives when learning new things. One of his newest behaviors is a ball jump, where he leaps all the way out of the water to touch a ball with the tip of his nose. This is a behavior commonly done with sea lions to show the strength of their front flippers to propel themselves out of the water. Most people don’t realize harbor seals possess similar capabilities, however, they use their strong rear flippers for propulsion.
Pickles brings joy to us every single day. It is a true honor to be his trainer. He never fails to put a smile on everyone’s face. We hope people who visit the aquarium will come and see Pickles and learn to appreciate him and his wild counterparts and be inspired to protect wildlife.
EDITOR’S NOTE: This week is National Zookeeper Week, July 18-24, 2021, a time to recognize our keepers’ hard work, conservation efforts, and passion in caring for animals.
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