Day five was a leisurely wake up, breakfast, and then off again to SeaWorld.
Our first order of business was to return to the stingrays. The girls couldn’t stop talking about them. We coughed up our money for a tray of raw shrimp and lowered our hands into the pool so they could sweep the food off our hands with their lip flappy thinggies. In actuality, the stingrays swarmed whomever was feeding, so we all felt a bit more comfortable dropping the shrimp into the pool for them. I kept thinking “One of these critters killed the Crocodile Hunter!” Call me paranoid. I’m sure pregnant ladies aren’t supposed to be up to their armpits in raw shrimp stingray poop infested waters, so I gave myself a bath in the hand wash station and then we headed off to Dolphin Cove to watch the dolphins cavort before we got our seats for the dolphin show.
First we saw the dolphins splashing above water, then we headed to the underwater portion of their aquarium, and were treated to a different kind of dolphin show. The dolphins seemed very curious about the people watching them, so they kept swimming up to the glass to check everyone out. Then I started to hear tittering from the crowd gathered at the opposite end of the glass windows. I headed over only to realize that two of the dolphins were getting it on. I figured they were mating until I realized they were both male. (Take that all of you morons who think homosexuality is ‘unnatural’!) Once Bert and Ernie started going at it, all of the other dolphins seemed inspired, and soon it was like a scene from ancient Rome. With dolphins. There seemed to be no concern whatsoever for gender, and interestingly, none of the children seemed to comment about this display. It was the teenager and adult observers who seemed all aflutter about this. I guess to the kids it just seemed like play, which as far as I’m concerned, it was.
Daddy kept commenting about how sorry he felt for the dolphins. He likened their hump fest to bored young adults who were trapped growing up in the country with nothing to do but get drunk and high and fool around. I suggested he speak with the trainer on duty about the captivity practices at SeaWorld, and so he did. I’m not sure she put him at ease though. She spoke about their breeding program and how they sometimes will sell breeding stock to other zoos or aquariums. SeaWorld sets the standard for care and treatment of marine life, but they breed some animals in captivity to keep people paying to see the animals do tricks. That money goes towards saving and usually re-releasing distressed and injured animals and to making more rich Americans. When asked why the dolphins were having a sex-fest she stated “Dolphins are very social creatures”. We decided they were the bonobos of the sea.
After leaving the company of our social friends, we went to grab seats for the dolphin show. The other dolphin show, which was decidedly less sexy. I think I enjoyed this show the most because it featured a team of aerial divers who did some really amazing tricks. I figure if the animals have to do tricks, the humans should also do strange and unnatural things with their bodies. All of the humans were dressed as exotic birds, and much to my surprise the show featured several flocks of parrots who were released from the back of the stadium, flying very close over our heads. My mother would have had a coronary. It was like a Hitchcockian paradise. At one point, a huge dark shadow passed over us and I felt a woosh of air over my head. A condor swooped from the back of our seats to the back of the stage. I’ve never seen a bird that large. It was terrifying. After the show, some of the cast were on hand to pose for a photo. People were treating the actors like they were cardboard cutouts, but our girls both said “That was a great show!” without prompting from us. They make me so proud.
With time to spare before the next show, the fam decided to tackle the Atlantis themed log ride. Again, no pregnant ladies allowed. What to do but waddle into the gift shop which was icy with a/c. It also featured a small aquarium room with a glass floor. I settled myself on the cool floor with my back propped against the wall. It felt so good to be cold and sitting down, and I had a couple of other pregnant buddies to talk to. Watching the fish float by beneath me lulled me right to sleep until a toe against my knee woke me up. It was Mamma S reporting that near by lighting had temporarily closed down the ride, so she was sent to consult with me about whether they should wait, or catch our last opportunity to feed the dolphins. We’d come to the park to feed the dolphins, so the dolphins won. The kids were pretty disappointed about the ride, and I think were probably starting to get a bit tired. (Read cranky)
We chose well because there was a massive line up for the dolphin feeding. Fortunately, we were right next to the stingray pool so the kids were able to occupy themselves there until we’d moved further in the line. Finally we had paid our dolphin feeding fee and were about to face them head on. The trainer gave us some basic rules to follow and then they armed us with a tray of raw fish. The dolphins swam up very close and with one hand we could pop the fish in their mouths and with the other stroke them under their chins. I think I had expected to see some clever, ancient sparkle in their eyes, but they looked all dead on the inside. Again, I just ended up feeling kind of sad for them. They ate well every day, but they basically had to whore themselves and be fondled by strangers in order to do so. I scrubbed the raw fish and the shame away at the wash station.
By now the rain had started. We headed over to the next show, in an indoor theatre, featuring trained domestic pets. We were quite early so we stopped in a cafeteria for lunch, and surprisingly found some really healthy options. Daddy got the smoked turkey leg he’d been craving; another throw-back from my Renaissance Festival days.
After lunch we watched the pet show. It was easily the girls’ favourite. The set was pretty elaborate – it was a beach town for pets, and the animals were very amusing. There were lots of different dogs and cats, a rat, a pot bellied pig, and a skunk. They were all rescued from local animal shelters to be kept (probably in crates) at SeaWorld learning tricks to amuse humans. Hmmmm….
The pet show was our last SeaWorld attraction before we decided to call it a day. We let the girls play a “win every time” game, and they each got a stuffed stingray to take home. The girls really loved SeaWorld, and loved getting to see so many of these animals for the first time. H stated she wanted to be a marine biologist or trainer when she grows up. It inspired them in just the way a zoo or aquarium should. Two new converts to the “save the marine life” school of thought. This also led to a really interesting conversation about why we could go to SeaWorld, but why we’ll never spend our money at our close-to-home Marineland. Coincidentally, the Marineland animal abuse story broke just after we returned to Toronto. After SeaWorld we had a dinner reservation at the Benihana across the street from the hotel, and we had just enough time to go home and freshen up.
Benihana was highly entertaining for the girls. For those of you unfamiliar with the franchise, it’s a Japanese restaurant that operates teppanyaki style, which means the chef cooks everything right at your table. We shared our table with a couple on vacation with their little boy. He kept making race car sounds, but no actual words, through the entire meal. Ironically, A was super annoyed with all of the noise he was making. Our chef was very amusing, and great with the kids. The food however was a huge disappointment. I could barely choke down my over-cooked steak. Fortunately we filled up on appetizers, which were yummy, but the main event was blah. Again, high entertainment value for the children saves the day.
It was straight to bed for the munchkins at home, and some relaxation time for the grown ups. Day six would be our biggest day yet, and our final full day of vacation. We had reservations for Discovery Cove where we’d swim with otters, stingrays, tropical fish and sharks. I think day six was the day we’d all been waiting for.