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Texas Zoo hosts sea lion splash

By IAN TERRY
April 15, 2014 at 10:03 p.m.
Updated April 14, 2014 at 11:15 p.m.

A sea lion emerges from a water pool during a "Sea Lion Splash" show put on by Squalus Inc. at The Texas Zoo at Riverside Park in Victoria. Four sea lions participated in the show - two Californian sea lions and two Patagonian sea lions.

Irelyn Warner, 5, of Victoria, winced as a California sea lion plopped its head onto hers after a show at The Texas Zoo at Riverside Park in Victoria.

Together with her aunt, Corri Urban, cousin Cara Urban, and her brother, Blayne, Irelyn posed for a photo and walked off with a smile.

The show Friday, put on by Squalus Inc. out of Florida, incorporated four sea lions, two of which are Patagonian and two Californian.

Hustling across the center stage that was flanked by two pools was trainer Beccy Hughes, of Sarasota, Fla., who, along with fellow trainer Ian Fuller, performed a variety of tricks with the animals.

"We try and push recycling," said Hughes, who included a segment in the show in which a sea lion passionately displays its distaste for ocean pollution by theatrically flinging a plastic bottle into a recycling container.

"That's something we want the kids to walk away with: 'Put it in the recycling bins,'" Hughes said.

The ball-balancing and high-flying sea lions are on the road with their trainers nine months out of the year, and traveled to Tucson, Ariz., after their three-day performance in Victoria.

Parents were excited at the chance to expose their kids to a sea lion show.

"The kids loved it," Irelyn's aunt said. "It's exciting for the kids to see something that's not available (in South Texas)."

Still beaming was Irelyn, despite having just been inches away from a sea lion's mouth.

"I'm not scared of sea lions," she said, walking confidently.

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