Get Ready for a Wild Encounter:

Caring for our Flippered Friends

Being a marine mammal trainer takes careful preparation. Here are some things you need to know so that you can be prepared to work side by side with your Marine Mammal host:

You will be spending time near deep water during the Marine Mammal program. Although you won't be swimming, it is important that you are safe and comfortable. We recommend that you have basic swimming ability and can keep yourself safe in water depth greater than your height.

Marine mammal trainers spend a good deal of time kneeling while they are working with the dolphins, seals, and sea lions. It is important that you are physically able to kneel for up to 15 minutes at a time without assistance.

Communication between you and the rest of the training staff is crucial. You must be able to read, speak, and understand English without the use of an interpreter.

You must be a good listener. Although our dolphins and pinnipeds are trained to work with their human caregivers, they are still wild animals and their behavior is unpredictable. It is important that you pay close attention to the guidance and instructions of the trainer you are spending the morning with.

Please also note the following precautions:
• All participants are required to complete a signed liability waiver.
• You cannot participate in the Marine Mammal if you are pregnant.
• Not all portions of the Marine Mammals are fully accessible. Guests with disabilities: please call (708) 688-8338, for accessibility information.


Who can register for the Marine Mammal program?
Youth 12 and over with the written permission of a parent or guardian

Can my family or friends watch me participate in this program?
To ensure the safety of all involved, only the registered program participants will be allowed in the areas where the program is taking place. However, there are two times when the Marine Mammal program participants will be visible to the public: between approximately 10:30 and 11:15 a.m. at Pinniped Point, and during the 11:30 a.m. Dolphin Show.

What should I wear?
You will be indoors in warmly heated areas when working with the dolphins and outside when working with the seals and sea lions. You are welcome to wear either long pants or shorts. We will provide you with waterproof work boots, so be sure to wear or bring socks. There is the chance that your clothing will come in contact with salt water, so you may want to bring a change of clothes. You will be asked to remove all jewelry other than smooth wedding bands (no stones). Because you will be in front of the public during pinniped feeding sessions and as a special guest at the 11:30 a.m. Dolphin Show, we ask that you wear something presentable without holes or noticeable wear.

Will there be a place to store my personal items?

Yes. We will provide you with a secure place to keep your personal items while you participate in your Wild Encounters program.

Can I take pictures during the program?

To keep the animals comfortable, we do not allow camera or cell phone use during Wild Encounters.

Where do we meet?

A keeper will meet you outside the public doors of Underwater Viewing Area at Seven Seas at 9:00 a.m.

What if I’m late?

If you are more than 15 minutes late, please call (708) 688- 8424 and the keeper will meet you as soon as they are able. If you arrive late, the length of the program cannot be extended.

What if I need to cancel?

Wild Encounters, Windows into the Zoo, Hamill Family Play Zoo Classes, Adult Classes prices included a non-refundable deposit equal to 25% of program cost. Cancellations require advance notice of seven working days.

What if I need to reschedule?

Please follow the cancellation process outlined above. Once you have completed your cancellation, you are welcome to register for any available Wild Encounters program. Due to limited availability, we cannot guarantee program registration.

What do I need to know about working with the animals?

Although our Flippered Friends animals are comfortable working with their human caregivers, they are still wild animals and their behavior is unpredictable. It is important that you pay close attention to the guidance and instructions of the keeper you are spending the morning with. Never enter any animal area without direction from the keeper. Always wait for instructions and authorization from the keeper before approaching any of the animals while participating in training and feeding sessions.

If you have additional questions or concerns, please email or call 708-688-8361.