LONG BEACH -- After a hiatus due to the pandemic, The Aquarium of the Pacific has relaunched its Animal Encounters program, giving visitors the opportunity to get up close and personal with its residents.
"Now at the Aquarium of the Pacific, we're offering penguin encounters, seal and sea lion encounters, shark and ray encounters," said Mammalogist II Sarah Larsen. "Just trying to get people up close with our animals again."
The Shark and Ray Encounter is available on Thursdays and Fridays while the Seal and Sea Lion Encounter and the Penguin Encounter are available daily.
"My favorite part about the Shark and Ray Encounter is actually getting into the water and getting that experience with our cownose rays," said Aquarist II Rachel Munson. "They swim right up to you and they are really flashy and inquisitive and super sweet as well."
"You get to meet one of our California sea lions," said Larsen. "You get to toss them some food, interact with them, learn all about their habitat and their overall health care, which is pretty awesome and fun."
The Aquarium of the Pacific said they are enforcing COVID-19 safety protocols.
"There is a safe way to be at a distance and meet our animals," Larsen said. "We're doing it with masks on making sure to be socially-distanced."