MYSTIC, Conn. (June 30, 2010) – For those who have ever wondered how – or why – trainers teach beluga whales various behaviors, Mystic Aquarium is now offering a way for guests to find out firsthand. Launching tomorrow, the new Train-A-Whale program offers a side-by-side, intimate learning experience with a trainer during a beluga whale feeding and training session.
The program begins in the Beluga Encounter Room, where a maximum of two guests meet a whale trainer and learn about the belugas at the aquarium and in the wild, as well as training concepts and current conservation issues. From there, they are led to the Arctic Coast exhibit, home to New England’s only beluga whales and one of the largest beluga whale exhibits in North America . The program takes place on the exhibit’s "beach", an area typically only accessed by staff.
During this portion of the program, participants will shadow a trainer to get an up-close look at how they build relationships with the animals and teach them behaviors. These behaviors are taught for regular close interaction that includes daily physical examinations, research, exercise, playtime and learning with the whales. Guests will have the opportunity to participate in the training and interact with the whale one-on-one.
“Guests are always intrigued by our work with animals,” said Dr. Tracy Romano, senior vice president of research and zoological operations at Mystic Aquarium, a division of Sea Research Foundation, Inc. “This new program allows individuals who are curious about animal behavior to connect with our whales and see the important work our trainers do to provide the highest levels of animal care and enrichment. It also serves as a great introductory experience for students interested in pursuing or learning more about a related career.”
The Train-A-Whale program is offered May 1 through October 31. Programs take place daily from 10:45 to 11:45 a.m. Thursday through Monday. The program is open to those ages 13 and up (those under 16 must be accompanied by a participating adult). The program cost is $129 ($120 for aquarium members) and includes aquarium admission and an “I Trained a Beluga Whale Today” tee shirt. Reservations are required. To make a reservation, visit http://www.mysticaquarium.org/ For more information, call (860) 572-5955, ext. 520.
The Train-A-Whale program is one of many animal encounter programs offered by Mystic Aquarium. To learn more about these programs, visit mysticaquarium.org.
Sea Research Foundation is a leader in beluga research, care and training. Through long-standing animal care and research relationships with other institutions across the nation, Mystic Aquarium has been selected to house belugas from other leading facilities for various reasons, including breeding initiatives, exhibit renovations and research. Dr. Romano also conducts regular research of the wild beluga population in Point Lay , Alaska . She and local researchers are trying to better understand belugas’ health and how they respond to environmental change, including human-related factors, ultimately contributing to the long-term survival of the species.
About Sea Research Foundation, Inc.
Mystic Aquarium, Institute for Exploration and Immersion Learning are divisions of Sea Research Foundation, Inc., a non-profit 501(c)3 organization. The mission of Sea Research is to inspire people to care for and protect our ocean planet through education, research and exploration.