Como Zoo’s Sparky the sea lion show is taking a break

Here's why there won't be a Sparky Show for more than a year.
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The Como Zoo’s famous Sparky is taking a break from show business.

The Sparky Show on Labor Day (Sept. 4) will be the last until 2019. That’s because the zoo is renovating Sparky’s home, Como said Monday. Sparky and the other sea lions and seals will still be at the zoo during construction, though.

A video tour (watch it below) details the plans for the new exhibit – and it looks pretty cool for both Sparky, her friends, and zoogoers.

The exhibit will feature two saltwater pools divided by a rocky area. The main training pool will have an infinity edge, so people sitting in the covered amphitheater can see all of the action. There will also be a place where people can get an underwater look at the animals swimming around in the main pool.

The second pool features a more secluded habitat for the seals and sea lions.

Near the exhibit there will be a new viewing plaza, restrooms and seating area with tables nearby, among other things.

This exhibit isn’t just good for seeing Sparky and the other pinnipeds (the word for fin-footed mammals, like sea lions and seals), but it’s good for the animals themselves. The zoo says the year-round indoor/outdoor “world-class” exhibit will “meet or exceed” all regulatory and animal management requirements.

One of the most important features of this revamped exhibit is the focus on training. The zoo says it will allow for more “operant conditioning training” of the seals and sea lions, ensure zookeepers have more time to give individual attention to the animals, and create more opportunities to observe the animals’ behaviors and provide better care.

“As with recent renovations at Como, it’s not about getting bigger it’s about doing what we do better,” Michelle Furrer, Como’s Campus Manager, said in a news release. “We want to ensure that, for generations to come, Sparky will be an ambassador for conservation and education. In order to do this, updates are needed.”

The final Sparky Show until the new exhibit opens in 2019 will be at 3 p.m. on Labor Day.

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