Sunday, July 27, 2008

Sparky the 5th is 30 year old!

That’s right, this weekend Sparky V celebrated his 30th birthday!

He began doing Sparky the Sea Lion shows in the early 80’s with Norm Byng. He entertained visitors for over 20 years, until he and his trainer retired in 2001. Even though Sparky is retired from shows, he is still trained daily, and remembers many of his show behaviors. You may remember Sparky’s run in with the Minnesota mosquito. He used to show the crowd where the mosquito bit him, right on his rump and he would show everyone just how noisy that mosquito was! I still remember the whole routine he and Norm did because I made my parents take me to the zoo all the time. Sparky is quite a legend here at Como and we value everyday we get to work with him in our training sessions, knowing that for a sea lion he has now fully entered "Old Age." California sea lions, like Sparky, on average live 15-25 years in the wild and about 30 years in captivity. However, according to our records, the oldest sea lion in captivity has lived to be 35 years old , so we are pushing for Sparky to break that record!

To celebrate his birthday the visitors and news crews sang him "Happy Birthday!" and his keepers made a special frozen fish birthday cake just for him and one for each of his roommates. He also painted a picture to document the day. Volunteers helped decorate the island by making an awsome banner to hang on Seal Island!

Thanks to everyone who came out to help us celebrate and Happy Birthday Sparky!

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