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February 19, 2019

By Valerie Olstad, Pinniped Keeper

You may have seen a First Bank Sea Lion Show in the summer, but have you ever wondered what our “stars of summer” do in the winter?

Well, regardless of the time of year, at the end of each day, our animals have the opportunity to choose between their public habitat and behind-the-scenes habitats. In the winter, as long as the stage doesn’t become icy, training sessions will occur along with the daily scheduled feedings.

Our off-season is when we train new behaviors to the animals, which may be in the show the following season. We train the sea lions to participate in husbandry, which allows them to participate in their own health care (for example, opening their mouths for inspection). We also work on other behaviors that we don’t get to focus on as much during show season.

In addition to heating the pool in the winter, we increase our animals’ diets and add in another fatty fish called mackerel. This helps the animals gain weight to make sure they are comfortable throughout the cold winter months.