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Sleeping Seals
Injured Seal
 

Caring For Our Animals

Each day at Dolphin Marine Conservation Park, 365 days a year, we devote hours of time to care for our animals.  

In August 2016 Dolphin Marine Conservation Park achieved accreditation through the Zoo and Aquarium Association our industries peak national body, the objectives of the accreditation program are assessed on: 

 

  • Professional standards for husbandry and animal care practices.
  • Maintain accurate animal and medical records.
  • Enhance the survival of species by the use of appropriate methods.
  • Maintain an appropriate, safe, and quality existence for animals kept under human care.
  • Safety of humans, both staff and visitors, from injury and disease.
 

 

To find out more about the work that goes into caring our animals... read on


Training

One of the ways in which we provide important enrichment and stimulation to the animals at Dolphin Marine Conservation Park is through training. Training can be as basic as teaching an animal to wait patiently while we move another animal to or from the same enclosure or be can complex as training an animal to voluntarily assist us in a medical procedure.

We train all the animals at the park using operate conditioning, where the animal receives some sort of reward for completing a behaviour when asked. This reward doesn’t have to be a fish... in some situations a pat, praise or even a toy maybe the reward that the animal prefers!

If an animal misunderstands or gives us an incorrect behaviour, we simply pay no attention to the animal until the animal has stopped the undesired behaviour. Just like children, animals can sometime misbehave looking for attention!

The Marine Mammal Specialists use whistles as markers to let the animals know they have completed a behaviour. The whistles have been conditioned so that even from a distance, the Marine Mammal Specialists can communicate to the animal “Good job! Come back and get a nice reward!”.


Health

The health and well being of all the animals at the is monitored on a daily basis by the Marine Mammal Specialists who work with them and by our veterinarian. This includes recording the total diet eaten by each animal each day as well as taking health and behaviour observations.

The animals are also trained to assist us in their care and husbandry, such as climbing onto scales each fortnight to monitor their weight, laying down and presenting their body for an ultrasound, or even a voluntary donation of blood, just like we do when we visit the doctor!

In the rare event that our animals are unwell, Dolphin Marine Conservation Park has network of marine mammal experts from all over the world who consult with our veterinarian on the animal health and well being. If required, Dolphin Marine Conservation Park brings specialists to Australia... recently we had the world’s leading seal ophthalmic surgeon out from the United States to remove cataracts from the eyes of several of our oldest seals at the.


Enrichment

Aside from their daily training, the animals at Dolphin Marine Conservation Park also receive enrichment in the form a variety of toys which are given to them to play with each day. We have a huge selection of toys available for the Marine Mammal Specialists to chose from, including basic toys such as balls and chew ropes. We have moving toys, where their parts twist around and are chased when the animal plays with it and puzzle toys, where the animal has to play with it to get to something hidden inside, such as another toy or food.

In addition to the man made toys, many of the animals also like to play with more “natural” enrichment such as ice blocks or even fresh strands of kelp and seaweed.

The animals are just like us, in that they each have their own personalities with likes and dislikes. Not surprisingly, we quickly see which toys are the favourites of the different animals. Once the Marine Mammal Specialists know which toys the animals like, they will spend time devising new challenges for the animals, such as freezing a chew rope inside a block of ice giving the animals who like these toys a greater challenge.


Freetime

One of the animal’s favourite forms of enrichment at Dolphin Marine Conservation Park takes place outside of operational hours and therefore isn't seen by guests visiting the. Known affectionately by the Marine Mammal Specialists as “Freetime”, this enrichment session entails allowing groups of seals out of their usual areas to roam around the dolphin pool area and interact and play with the dolphins.

There is a noticeable increase in the excitement of the seals when they see the Marine Mammal Specialists preparing for freetime. Many of the younger seals will immediately run out of the pens and jump into the dolphin pool to start playing as soon as the gates are opened. For their part, the dolphins love chasing the seals around whilst the seals are in the water and follow them inquisitively from pool to pool as they swim around.

Even the older seals, who are a little too dignified to participate in the rough and tumble play with the dolphins, like to jump into the dolphin pool and swim around, even if it’s at a more leisurely pace! Some of the older seals like to explore the and one, Cindy, often likes to wander down to the underwater viewing tunnel in our Solitary Reefs exhibit and watch the large fish swimming by the windows with wistful eyes!

 

Share your experience & win

Write a short story, upload a photo and you could WIN free entry to the park for you and your family.

Tami

I seen Bucky on sash on TV just now. What an amazing spirit. I feel blessed to be kissed by a trooper. Xoxo thank you Greg for sharing an amazing dolphin. I work with Fuji and I am glad we have a photo booth for people to keep the memories. Sometimes it is all you have. I love my kiss picture with Bucky. Thank you for your photo. Paige Sinclair CEO..

Katherine Thompson

This was my last visit to The pet Porpoise pool 35 years ago I was 7. we used to go every year when I was little and my grandmother getting kissed by a seal was the highlight of the day. I loved feeding the fairy penguins and my dream is to one day swim with the dolphins. I would love to win passes to marine magic to experience it again with my family. What great memories Katherine, we hope to w..

Bianca

My mum and I just spend the whole weekend at Pet Porpoise Pool, we travel from Tweed to Coffs just to see Buck and Zip, we love them and can't get enough. Already driven down 3 times this year, and every time it's amazing. And we loved seeing all 5 dolphins in the pool, Bella's a sneaky little thing! We got drenched by her plenty of times hahaha. Great to hear you enjoyed yourselves - Paige S..

Jody Hunt

I have been saying for years that I have wanted to visit Coffs Harbour since learning about Dolphin Marine Conservation Park. We finally were able to visit last Thursday and it was an even greater experience than I could have ever imagined or hoped for. From the amazing staff that made us feel so welcome, and the obvious passion and care for their animals and allowing such a hands on experienc..

Chrisavalanti manolakis

I got the opprotunity to swim with amazing jett last year. He was all over me and little did I know I was actually pregnant! One year later we are bringing our beautiful boy to come visit my good old friend jett in the next fortnight. Can't wait to reunite with all the gang. Such an amazing park and outrun sea world any day Thank you, we look forward to welcoming you all back here ag..

Sumit Thapa

Our 2 kids under 3 and 5 had great fun watching the dolphins, penguins, turtles and the seal. We arrived around 1.30 as we travelled all the way from Sydney and missed all the big shows but kids still looked so excited just watching the animals play free. Staff were very lovely and caring and they seemed to have real love and passion towards what they do which was great to see. We hope to retu..

Leah Cunningham

I would like to thank the staff at the park. My son swam with the dolphins today and had the most wonderful experience. Something he will never forget made his dreams come true. Thank you Leah that is so great to hear :)..

Emma Baker

My son and I came to visit the park in January, it was my sons second visit to the park we came in 2012 when he was 1, the smile on my son’s face during the show and seeing all the animals was well worth the 5 hour drive to get there, while sitting in the grandstand watching the show I heard about the in the water hugs with the seal so I thought to myself why not and I paid for my 8 years old ..

Rob Brigden

My wife and I are on a two week working holiday in Coffs Harbour and we are trying to see some of Coffs while we are here. Yesterday we walked from our accommodation to the Jetty Markets and were a little disappointed. Walking back to our resort, we passed the dolphins conservation park. My wife said "Would you like to go and have a look?" I didn't immediately know what the facility was. I was..

Shana Ghadially

Pet porpoise pool holds a special memory for our family. Our 6 year old daughter was thrilled as she had the experience of brushing the dolphin's teeth. And our four month old couldn't have dreamt in his wildest dreams that he was being kissed by a seal! we don't need the pics to remind us of those memories ... they are etched in our minds. It was a brilliant holiday we had at Coffs Harbour , ..

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