The Business of the Sea Lion Exhibit at the Louisville Zoo
Reported by Kasey Wehrum
Here’s a look at the companies that provide the herring, faux rocks, animal ID tags, and water-filtration system as you enjoy feeding time at the sea lion exhibit.
The pool in the Louisville Zoo's new sea lion exhibit, which opened in June, contains 108,000 gallons of saltwater. Every 45 minutes, the water circulates through a high-rate sand-filtration system made by Neptune-Benson in Coventry, Rhode Island. Brothers Junius and Raymond Gertz started the company, in 1956, to make filter systems for pools at private homes and country clubs. Today, Junius's son, Barry, runs the 40-employee company, which has installed more than 6,000 systems in private pools, aquariums, water parks, and zoos, including the Central Park Zoo in New York City.
Zoo trainers can identify Triton, the 20-year-old sea lion shown here, by his easygoing personality, along with a radio-frequency identification microchip made by Avid Identification Systems in Norco, California. When trainers wave a hand-held scanner over Triton, his ID number, contained on a tiny chip embedded under his skin, appears on the screen. After his own golden retriever wandered off, veterinarian Hannis L. Stoddard III founded Avid, in 1985, to help people locate missing pets. The company has about 200 employees and serves pet owners, labs, farms, and zoos.
Faux rock formations
Zalophus californianus, a.k.a. the California sea lion, is native to the West Coast of the United States. To help make the sea lions' Louisville home look more like their natural habitat, Cemrock created these artificial rock formations, which are made from cement that has been sculpted and painted to look like the real thing, with authentic touches such as painted-on "lichen." Rick Dyson founded Cemrock in 1978 and sold the company to current CEO Brian Olson in 1994. The $12 million company, which is based in Tucson, has 80 employees and customers such as the San Diego Zoo.
Feeding time is a favorite among visitors and animals alike. Three times a day, the zoo's four sea lions and one seal snack on herring and capelin supplied by Atlantic/Pacific, a North Kingstown, Rhode Island, company that acts as a distributor for fishermen on the East and West coasts of the U.S. and Canada. John Kosmark, an oceanographer and marine biologist, founded Atlantic/Pacific in 2000. The two-employee company provides food for marine mammals at hundreds of zoos and aquariums worldwide, including Chicago's Shedd Aquarium.