My little one loves penguins. One of his goals is to work with them someday. So, of course, we had to visit Adventure Aquarium this weekend for African Penguin Awareness Weekend.
He brought along Puff Puff, his only stuffed African penguin (most of his penguins are Emperors), for the visit. As soon as we arrived, he almost ran to Penguin Island to see his friends, noticing Cassie, the 10-month-old, right away. He pulled out his notepad and started drawing a picture of the dark grey penguin, who stayed still in a pose the entire time.
He soon led us around the rest of the aquarium, meeting the new crocodiles, saying hi to Tortuga, and watching as a fish took a ride on a ray's back. On our way to see the sharks from the Kids Zone upstairs, we found penguin activities in the hall outside the theater.
He first made a little sign for Puff Puff to carry. Then, he made a penguin rubbing, giving the penguin "robot legs." I'm not sure if Mark, the senior biologist observing the project, understood my child was mixing his other marine love, dolphins, with penguins. See, he fell in love with dolphins after visiting and learning about Winter (a dolphin who, to a six-year-old at least, has a "robot" tail) at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium.
Between the penguin art session and the penguin meet-and-greet, we had time to visit the sharks. At the meet-and-greet, we met Chickpea. My son mostly observed how Chickpea played, asking every once in a while, "Isn't he so cute?" He came up with real questions to ask the biologists, I think purely to attempt a conversation.
Before leaving, he got an I Love Penguins wristband for Puff Puff. It reminded him of the identifying tags the penguins at the aquarium wear, and thought Puff Puff would want to wear one just like his buddies. He was beaming the rest of day, and said before falling asleep that it was the best day ever.