On March 31, the Georgia Aquarium debuted its new dolphin and sea lions shows that turn the spotlight on training and education. The AT&T Dolphin Celebration replaces AT&T Dolphin Tales, which had been showing since 2011. When my family and I recently visited the Georgia Aquarium, the new show was not in place; however, we did get to hear from the trainers about the various training methods and techniques they employ when working with the show’s bottlenose dolphins.
I actually liked this approach much better. AT&T Dolphin Tales was much more about entertainment through storytelling, and, while my kids enjoyed it, it was too cheesy for my husband and me. With AT&T Dolphin Celebration, we heard how the dolphins learn their various tricks and jumps and enjoyed seeing the dolphins show off their talents.
According to Lisa Mignogna, director of zoological operations and dolphin training for the Georgia Aquarium, this new show highlights the relationships the staff have developed with each dolphin and the training processes that help them care for the dolphins. “We hope every guest takes away a deeper understanding and connection to these magnificent animals after experiencing AT&T Dolphin Celebration,” she said. For me personally, it certainly is a more enjoyable approach to the dolphin show and one I hope stays around for a long time.
A similar approach was taken in implementing the new sea lion show, Sea Lions: Under the Boardwalk. This show features California sea lions in an intimate setting in the new SunTrust Pier 225, a much smaller venue than the dolphin show theater. For the most part, everyone has a good, up-close view of at least one sea lion; there are some seats blocked by large columns, so arrive early for the best view.
As with the dolphin show, we were unable to see the new show, but we did get to see the trainers work with the sea lions. With this performance, we heard how the trainers have been working with the sea lions to not only perform certain tricks, but also to become familiar and comfortable with performing in front of an audience. Right now, there are four sea lions, all rescued from last year’s Unusual Mortality Event, where sea lion pups were stranded on California beaches searching for food.
Through the sea lion show, the Georgia Aquarium seeks to educate visitors on the dangers sea lions face in the wild and key environmental factors that affect them. Like the dolphin show, I enjoyed this approach much more than a traditional entertainment slant. I look forward to returning to the Georgia Aquarium to see both shows now that they are in place.
During our visit, we also took in a showing of an adapted version of “Happy Feet” in the newly renovated “The 4D Funbelievable Theater,” caught a glimpse of the African penguins taking their “Waddle Walk” and got in touch with some starfish in the Aqua Lab Research Center, in addition to checking out the aquarium’s various galleries. All in all, it was a great day spent at the Georgia Aquarium!
To find out more about the dolphin and sea lion shows or to plan your own visit, check out the Georgia Aquarium online.
Note: Karon and her family visited the Georgia Aquarium as guests of the aquarium. All thoughts and opinions expressed herein belong solely to the author.