Penguins! They’re adorable birds who can’t fly and live in the Antarctic. We normally don’t get the chance to see them unless they’re at a zoo and there’s ridiculously thick glass between us and the cute birds. However, at Sea World guests can have the rare opportunity to walk into the penguin exhibit and get personal with them. Well for my 18th birthday I got the chance to take the up close and personal penguin tour!
We had made the reservation online and paid online as well so that when we got to the park all we would have to do is talk to the service desk and check in. It’s a really convenient way to do it if any of you are interested in going yourselves. Dad and I went to the service desk area right after the entrance gate and told the employee that we had set up a tour and she printed out a ticket for us that had the time the tour would start. She also gave us a map and circled where we would need to go, and that was helpful.
The tour was at 11:15 so we waited by the exit of the penguin exhibit. There were 15 other people there with me and mom, dad, and Emily couldn’t go with so I went in on my own.
The tour guide led us down a hall outside the building where there were windows set up that let you look inside. The first area was a little research room where the aviculturists (people who study birds) work. The tour guide didn’t take us in but explained to us that they were working on the birds and their nesting season. The penguins take this time of the year to nest their eggs, so the aviculturists take tubing and place it at the top of the rock in the exhibit. Then the penguins find smooth, flat stones to put at the bottom of the nest. The smaller penguins lay more eggs than the kings. The king penguins are the biggest and often have a ring of orange around their necks.
After a small biology lesson on penguins, she takes us to the next window and shows us the nursery. This room is set aside from the exhibit so the penguins can be in a controlled climate. One gave us a charming smile and pooped in the water. Everyone laughed and the penguin looked pleased with itself. Then the tour guide told us it was time to meet our new best friends – the penguins!
She split us up into two groups and one of us went into the exhibit while the other went into the room with the black footed penguin. I went with the group into the exhibit first where the trainer Kelly (a guy) led us in. He told us we can touch the two smaller penguins inside the fenced off area but that we should ask to touch the king outside the fence.
By then I was shaking I was so excited. We walked in and it was cold! Kelly told us it was 30 degrees, and after he said that I smiled to myself thinking it should be nothing having lived through Wisconsin winters all my life. I’m already a temperature spoiled Floridian. We stayed in there for 15 minutes and the cold didn’t really get to me, I would have stayed in there for an hour if it meant staying with the penguins.
The first penguin I met was Jasper, and he was really laidback and chill about us petting him. We all took turns posing for pictures and when it was my turn the tour guide offered to take my pictures for me. Surprisingly enough Jasper was so soft! I wasn’t expecting that after touching blubbery dolphins and sting rays. Jasper liked being pet and he was loving the attention too. The other penguin that was with us was running around being crazy and nipping at peoples shoes. I can’t remember his name but he was hilarious.
After the 15 minutes was up (it felt like two minutes it went by so fast) we were moved down the hallway inside the building into one of the smaller and quieter rooms with one trainer and a black footed penguin on her lap. The two penguins that were with us in the exhibit burst out of the door with us and tried chasing us down the hall. It was cute and made us all sad to leave them when the trainer shooed them back inside.
When we got into the other room, the trainer talked more about penguins and their nesting season. She let us pet the penguin on her lap and get a picture with him. His name was spike and he was a little shy. When she finally let him off of her lap he ran under the counter behind two people. The trainer explained to us that penguins have personalities and Spike was a little shy with strangers but he still liked it when they pet him.
So that was my incredible experience. I had an amazing time and I miss the penguins already. They were adorable and if you have the chance to take this tour and you love penguins – do it! It’s 40 dollars per person and it’s a once in a lifetime chance.
And who knows, it could even inspire you to want to work with or study the adorable flightless birds!