We Followed A Marine Animal Trainer For A Day


(penguin honking) (chill, rhythmic music) – Guys, it’s– – [Jen] 7:50! – 7:50. The only reason we would
ever wake up this early is because we’re going to– – [Jen] The Shedd Aquarium! – [Steven] The Shedd Aquarium! – It’s probably the nicest aquarium in the Midwest, maybe America. It’s gigantic, it’s awesome,
it’s very expansive. – And we’re gonna get a
behind-the-scenes, sneak peek look at otters, penguins, trees. – [Jen] What? – Bats! – [Jen] Bats? (upbeat music) – My name is Michael Pratt,
I am a trainer up at the marine mammal department,
and you guys are here to experience our Trainer for a Day. – So people can actually
have this experience as well? – Absolutely, they throw
on a pair of rubber boots, just like you guys got on, and
they follow a trainer around for about four hours, and
they get to experience the highlights of what we do every day. We also wanna inspire people
to work towards conservation, protecting these animals out in the wild. – Alright, let’s do this!
– Yeah! – Let’s just get right to it. (chill music) – So this is the marine mammal kitchen. It’s pretty much the busiest
place in our department. And we usually hand-sort
through all the food. Right now these guys are sorting through some clam for our sea otters. It’s also really important for us to find sustainable seafood to feed our animals. We go through about 800 pounds
of restaurant-quality food to feed all of our
animals every single day. So we are gonna be
sorting through this clam, you can grab a piece of
clam, pull of this top part, and this is the foot, or the stomach, and this is what most of
their diet is made up of. It actually costs the same
amount of money to feed an adult sea otter as it does
to feed an adult beluga whale. – Oh my god.
– Oh my god. That’s quite a size difference. – That’s a 40-60 pound animal, versus a potentially close to 2,000 pound animal. – This is how kings eat, though. – Yeah, the animals have poison testers. All the traitors that eat
it first, just to make sure. (upbeat jazz music) – [Jen] They’re just looking
at us like who the hell are you losers? Holy crap. – [Steven] This one loves you, Jen! – [Jen] Probably just touched
poop, I don’t even care. – [Steven] Wanna see yourself? (penguin honking) – So the vocalizing, cause
there’s a bunch of new people out here, they want to
let themselves be known. They actually used penguin vocalizations to create some of the dinosaur
noises in Jurassic Park. Cookie’s a very important
penguin here at Shedd. She will be turning 30
years old this year. Cookie actually recently
had cataract surgery. – Oh my god. So do you hang out with
these penguins every day? – I’ve been working with them
for about seven and 1/2 years, so I know them really well,
they know me really well, we’ve got a good relationship. (upbeat music) So one of the really important things for animals here at Shedd
is environmental enrichment. Providing changes to their environment to keep them stimulated. These are some environmental
enrichment devices, also known as toys. Just grab a couple of pieces
of food, stick them in there. So what we’re gonna do
is give these to Ellie, our youngest otter. – [Steven] Oh, hi! [Jen] Oh my god. – [Steven] You want this, Ellie? Here you go. Oh, wow! – So it keeps their minds active, they gotta work to figure it out, it’s not just given to them. Some of the otters it takes a little while for them to learn which way to push it, but she knows what to do. – [Jen] Where do these otters come from? What are their stories? – Here at Shedd we have five sea otters, and four of them were directly
rescued from the wild. They were orphaned, or somehow
separated from their mother. So one of the nice
things about working with the animals here at Shedd,
is it gives us the skills that we can use to help
animals out in the wild. This is Luna and Mari. – [Steven] Oh my gosh! – I would just hang out here
all day if I worked here. I’d be like, I’m otter girl. – Sea otters actually have
the densest fur of any mammal, because unlike most marine mammals, they don’t have a thick layer
of blubber to keep them warm, so they’re relying on their coat. It’s also one of the reasons that they eat so much food, too, is because
their metabolism runs so fast to keep up a high body temperature. These are some of the treats
that we give the otters, it’s just clam mixed up with water. We put it in some little
molds and freeze it. – [Jen] Oh, they knew,
she was like, I’m here. – [Steven] Hi! – Just toss it in there, just don’t get your hands too close. – [Steven] Here you go. – They will start to stash
them in a little pocket that they have under their forelimbs. They’re really intelligent animals, they just have a really
short attention span. They get bored really easily. – [Jen] Fair enough. – Highly intelligent, low attention span. I’m the beluga whale, feed
me and I’ll do anything. – It was absolutely
phenomenal, it was like the coolest (bleep)ing we could’ve done. – [Steven] One thing you just
don’t realize is how much these people love the
animals that they work with. – They did tell us a lot about
their conservation efforts, and how they try to use their research specifically to foster a better
rescue and rehabilitation of orphaned animals or
animals that are sick. I wish we got to touch the otters, but I understand that they
are fragile, gentle creatures, and sometimes you just
look, you don’t touch. (chill music) (sign squeaking)

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