Published: February 15, 2008 at 11:40 PM
Actually, yes. Many years ago, I was a volunteer at the dolphin show at SFMM (this was back when they still HAD such). It was a contract show, animals and staff provided by Marine Animal Productions and facilities provided by the park itself.
We did a little of everything... Breaking out fish in the morning (from the freezer), cleaning up the area, helping with props during the shows, etc.
My favorite times... The off-hours and between shows, when we could spend time just being with the critters. Dolphins, like most other 'smart' mammals, are attention fiends. Besides, the better you get to know them, the more likely they'll be willing to "work" for you during the shows.
The whole thing, regrettably, fell apart shortly after the movie "Free Willy" made its dubious debut. The then-head of SFMM, who had seen the movie, decided that he didn't want captive marine animals in his park. The result was predictable.
This was doubly unfortunate, because the regular staff very often played host to visiting students from the Exotic Animal Training & Management (EATM) program at nearby Moorpark College. It used to be a good way for said students to get some practical hands-on in the marine mammal field.