The marine mammal caregivers at Marineland know the animals well. For example, one caregiver, Tali, has worked with a beluga whale for seven years. “To see him going from this younger animal, who was just learning to do things, to this animal who has a huge behavioral repertoire, is really fascinating” said Tali.
The video shows our caregivers and belugas during one of their husbandry training sessions. The husbandry behaviours taught to our marine mammals include presenting their fins or mouth for inspection. Learning and practising these behaviours make the animal more comfortable when it’s time for our veterinarians to examine them or carry out a necessary medical procedure.
Sea lions love to have fun! “For sea lions, their play is based on each other,” explains Dan Macdonald, marine mammal caregiver. They are very social animals so the supervised play is perfect for them. Toys are added to these play sessions to enhance the experience for the animals.
Now, even though playtime is important, so are daily check-ups. Dan Macdonald explains that the sea lions are examined daily. Daily check ups include inspecting their bodies, mouths and teeth.
Check out the video to see the marine mammal caregivers interacting with Marineland’s sea lions:
The most important part of a marine mammal caregiver’s job is keeping routine records of all of the animals.
“We have sheets for each of the animals. We’ll write down what they did that day, their behavior that day and how they are interacting with the other animals they are living with,” said Dan Macdonald, marine mammal caregiver.
These records are used to communicate with other caregivers and veterinary staff, so they can stay up to date with each animal.
The bond between a caregiver and marine mammal is strong. The Marineland caregivers feel connected with the animals and love getting to know the individual personalities.
Check out this video to find out what a typical day is like for a marine mammal caregiver:
Dan Macdonald, a marine mammal caregiver at Marineland explains, “A lot of the behind the scene care for walruses is play.”
Walruses are social and love to play together. They have even more fun if toys are incorporated. Now, what toys does a walrus like? Balls, huge logs and icebergs are the current favourites!
The walruses have their own community and can be selective about whom they want to spend time with. For example, Dan Macdonald explains, “Sonja really likes to live and be with Buttercup. So, when we get a chance to, we make sure they get to spend as much time as possible with each other.”