What is Sea Lion Splash, where do the sea lions come from, and who takes care of them?
Kentucky Kingdom is proud to share the unique experience of Sea Lion Splash with our guests. Sea Lion Splash is an entertaining and informative presentation that showcases the relationship between an “adopted family” of rescued sea lions and their handlers. It is produced by Squalus Inc., a nationally credited marine mammal facility based in Florida and one of only a few organizations approved to take in beached sea lions that have been deemed unable to survive in the wild. This is sometimes the result of damage to the sea lions’ ecosystems, which causes them to become malnourished or abandoned.
Squalus has a passion for educating the public about sea lions and the need to preserve their natural habitats. Their rescue missions have taken them to both the east and west coasts of the U.S. and to South America. The “family” of sea lions vacationing at Kentucky Kingdom this summer is composed of both California sea lions and South American sea lions. In each presentation, our sea lion stars demonstrate how well they have bonded with their trainers, show off their natural behaviors, and even teach kids how to recycle! Between shows, they enjoy lots of time to play with one another and their trainers in the spacious pools installed especially for them or just to lounge in the sun and relax. Under the watchful eyes of their experienced trainers, they receive round-the-clock care and attention.
Each of the sea lions being cared for by Squalus has been assigned to them by the National Marine Fisheries Service (informally known as NOAA Fisheries), a federal agency that is a division of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Squalus is fully licensed by NOAA Fisheries, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
In conducting research on the nutritional needs and behavioral patterns of sea lions, Squalus has worked with the Mote Marine Laboratory of Sarasota, Florida and many aquariums and zoos across the country, including the Jacksonville, Florida Zoo and the Texas Zoo.
Here are some interesting facts about the stars of Sea Lion Splash:
- They sleep an average of 12 hours per day.
- The two pools that have been installed at Kentucky Kingdom’s Aqua Theatre for the sea lions are three times the minimum size standard set by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
- The sea lions are fed every three hours during the day, feasting on Atlantic Herring, Canadian Capelin, Gulf of Mexico Spanish Sardines, and Red Herring.
- The sea lions require stimulation and exercise, which they get plenty of as they perform and as they interact with one another and with their trainers between shows.