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Texas Zoo crowd flips over traveling sea lion show (video)

By Bianca Montes
Aug. 16, 2013 at 3:16 a.m.

Trainer Stefi Slavova gets a kiss after the show from one of the sea lions that performs in Sea Lion Splash, a traveling show, at the Texas Zoo. The sea lions will perform again at 10:30 a.m., 12:30 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

event information

• WHAT: Sea Lion Splash

• WHEN: 10:30 a.m., 12:30 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. through Sunday

• WHERE: The Texas Zoo

• COST: $5 passholders, $10 child and $15 for adult non-passholders

• CONTACT: 361-573-7681

Sea lion facts

• Sea lions evolved from bearlike ancestors and spend most of their time on land.

• There are 17 known species of sea lions and fur seals.

• Sea lions have a rotating hip bone that allows them to walk on land using all four flippers.

• Sea lions' flippers are so strong that they can stand on them.

• Adult male sea lions will weigh between 800 and 1,000 pounds; adult females weigh between 200 and 250 pounds.

• Sea lions live up to 35 years in a zoological environment and up to 15 years in the wild.

• Sea lions are carnivores that feed on fish, including squid, herring, mackerel, sardines and capelin.

Source: Sealionsplash.com

Seven-year-old Diego Cuellar clapped and danced with a trio of sea lions, not once, but twice Friday afternoon.

Sea Lion Splash, an educational road show, kicked off its three-day exhibit Friday at The Texas Zoo, bringing in more than 300 people, said zoo director Amanda Rocha.

"It's been really cool to bring something new to the area," Rocha said. "We thought Sea Lion Splash would be great because it's water-related. We don't have a lot of aquatic animals at the zoo, and we wanted to take the opportunity to teach the public about aquatic animals."

During the show, sea lions flaunted their talents by catching Frisbees with their teeth, rings around their necks and even dancing on stage - one moon-walked to a Michael Jackson song and shook her booty to "Baby Got Back" by Sir Mix-A-Lot.

Diego, his 5-year-old sister, Ava, and his friend, Meghan Brown, 10, all of Victoria, attended the 12:30 p.m. show Friday and because they enjoyed it, returned for the final show of the day after walking through the zoo.

Diego and Ava said their favorite part was the trainer, Stefi Slavova, playing hide-and-seek with Hansi, a 2-year-old Patagonian sea lion.

"It was funny," Diego said. "He was just hiding behind her."

Meghan said she loved when the sea lions would smile because their teeth were cute. Stella, a 9-year-old Patagonian, was her favorite.

"She was smart," she said.

The sea lions also performed to teach spectators about their species and the damaging effects of pollution on their habitat.

"Hey, Stella, what do you think about pollution?" Slavova asked from the stage after throwing a plastic water bottle into the pool.

Stella responded, jumping into the water, grabbing the bottle with her teeth and dropping it in a recycling bin on the stage.

"We always try to make it fun but educational, so the children know not to pollute," Slavova said.

Sea Lion Splash was established when founder Marco Peters began to adopt sea lions that were unable to survive in the wild because of sickness, age or injuries.

"What fascinates me the most is the intelligence of the species," Slavova said. "They really do understand what we're saying and what we're asking for."

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