Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Hang Out with a Penguin

When Benjamin and I first started putting together our Bucket List, we said to include anything that you'd think you would ever enjoy doing.  On mine was "hang out with a penguin."

We knew that we were going to be spending a long weekend in San Antonio for the AP Westfall Conference that UT Ortho hosts every year.  It just so happened that very same weekend was Baylor Day at Sea World!  Discounted Sea World tickets?  Yes, please!  Luke and Kala were also in for joining us for an afternoon adventure.

Benjamin kept telling me that during this weekend at some point, I would get a surprise.  And just him telling me that, I was going crazy trying to figure out what it would be!  I LOVE surprises, but then once you tell me I have a surprise... I want to know immediately what it is!  I was asking family members to coerce Benjamin into telling them so that they would tell me.  Nothing worked.  He was locked down.

So the afternoon for Sea World arrived and it literally had to be one of the hottest days we had up until that time.  After getting into the park, Luke and Kala went their separate way while Benjamin and I booked it to the very back of the park for this...
A PENGUIN ENCOUNTER!!  Benjamin surprised me with an Up-Close Penguin Tour!  I was ecstatic!

We stood with our guide and watched the Penguin feedings and to participate in the question & answer time with one of the guides.  After that was complete, our guide took us to the back of the exhibit and into the kitchen where they store and prepare all of the fishes for the penguins.  She told us all about what they eat, how they feed the penguins, and what they do special for the baby King penguins that they currently had in the habitat.
We were then allowed to step inside of the habitat for a few minutes to hear the different calls of the penguins.  It was a chill 35 degrees inside with snow falling from the ceiling, but none of that mattered because I was an arms length away from a Rock Hopper penguin named Doozo!  It was fascinating to be standing so near to them as they waddled around calling to one another in their distinctive ways.
Then they brought out Kermit.  First, what a precious name!  Who doesn't just instantly love a Kermit?!  Kermit is a Magellanic penguin, a warm weather penguin.  He is one of the penguins who travels to places like Jay Leno and the Oprah show... a famous penguin!
Magellanic penguins are also called jack-ass penguins because their call sounds exactly like that of a donkey.  And I can attest to that!  
Then for the fun part: we all got to give Kermit a little bit of love!
 I cannot hide the excitement from my face!  {Looks a lot like the photos of when I was little...}.  It was such a thrill to be able to be that close to a penguin!  Kermit was amazingly more soft than I had expected.  Soft like Lulu soft but a little more cold to the touch.
 His wings felt more scaly, more hard as I would have expected his entire body to feel.   
Then for Benjamin's turn:
Note Kermit's posture here.  Kermit is getting ready to poop.  Penguins poo almost every three to five minutes.  Benjamin just happened to catch him at one of those increments in time!  Luckily, Benjamin's cat like reflexes allowed him to jump out of the way, clear from harm!
 I just have to take a minute to say, my man is a handsome one!
We weren't allowed to take Kermit home with us, unfortunately he wasn't the souvenir that came with the package!  We did however get two 5x7 photos, totes and a water bottle.  
{This is a picture of a picture - we aren't normally this orange...}

Hanging out with a penguin was a great way to continue the celebration of our 5 years of wedded bliss!  I had such a blast marking "hang out with a penguin" off my list.  Now "walk around with a penguin" has been added!  There is another penguin encounter that Sea World offers where you dress up in a parka and walk around with the penguins, feeding them in their habitat!  They also have encounters with dolphins, sting rays, and belugas.  Those have also been added to the bucket list!   

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