Here at Colorado Culture we like to embrace as much of the state as we possibly can. The famed Ocean Journey turned Denver Aquarium has been on our bucket list for a long time now and it seemed like there’s no better time to get in there than the annual Otter Weekend that took place here this past weekend. At first glance, it somewhat resembles an ordinary building in the heart of downtown Denver. If you pass it from the highway, it shares a view with the Six Flags theme park, Sports Authority Field, and the massive CU Denver/Metro/CCD campus, and perhaps you can’t quite see from afar that inside is a whole different world.
With all the controversy surrounding places like Sea World in San Diego, a place that is receiving heavy criticism for the poor treatment of their killer whales (among other things), I am happy to report that this is not the case at the Denver Aquarium. Though the highlighted event of the day was the family of otters and the activities that ensued, including two brand new baby otters, we decided to take a tour of the venue before settling into the main event. The first stop was with the open aquarium of stingrays. As a spectator, you are given a small cup of shrimp to feed them. The animals are happy to approach and receive a treat as well as offer what appears to be a high five with their slimy, yet welcoming outstretched flippers. Moving deeper into the aquarium, which is built like a tour through a cave, we arrived at tanks of various different jellyfish, frogs, snakes, turtles, colorful fish of all shapes and sizes, sharks big and small, mermaids (for photos with kids), a giant octopus, and even a full size Sumerian tiger. Though the tiger was asleep during our visit, the information we gathered was that it was not unhappy in its environment. The Sumerian tiger is endangered and there are only a few hundred of them left on earth. This particular tiger is in a controlled habitat, and will be allowed to live safely with hopes of stimulating the population of tigers in the future.
Once we made our way through the exhibits of animals, fish, and mermaids, we had arrived at the land of all things otter. The day was packed with activities for kids, including enrichment and training sessions, photos with Oliver the Otter, and various booths set up with otter related information. At first arrival, there was one joyful otter swimming through the tank and hopping up onto land to showcase his excellent diving skills. As the day grew on, he was joined by two friends as they playfully danced around their enclosure. A group of otters is referred to as a family or a raft. They happily played around with various toys carried on their heads and during the training session could be seen doing flips and other acrobatic feats. Oliver and his friends were not camera shy in the least and they seemed almost jubilant at performing for a crowd. Though it was recommended to keep flash photography to a minimum, the well lit area was perfect for snapping photos, and at the end of the event, people were given the opportunity to get a photo with Oliver.
It was really amazing seeing a place like this treat their animals humanely. All enclosures seemed large enough to keep the animals happy and the staff was incredibly friendly and knowledgeable about how to care for these beautiful aquatic creatures. The negative connotations attached to a place like Sea World were not reflected at the Denver Aquarium. The Colorado Culture stamp of approval is happily placed on Otter Weekend and we’re certain we’ll be there next year, and many years to follow.
Keep up with all future events at the aquarium here, including 3D and 4D educational wildlife film viewings, events, banquets, mermaid meetings, and swimming with the sharks! (http://www.aquariumrestaurants.com/downtownaquariumdenver/ )
Photo Cred- Ryan at MacEachern Photography