LONG BEACH, Calif. (KABC) -- The Aquarium of the Pacific is taking its annual fundraiser, Sea Fare, online this year, where you will have the chance to get your hands on some original artwork.
"Teaching a sea lion to paint is really interesting. We have to first train them to hold the paintbrush," said mammalogist Erin Lundy. "That is basically handing them the paintbrush and waiting until they take it. And then reinforcing that with a lot of fish."
Lundy said that the aquarium started teaching sea lions and other animals, like penguins and the cockatoo, Lola, how to paint in order to keep them stimulated, especially while the aquarium is at limited capacity due to COVID-19.
"Our seals and sea lions have definitely missed having our guests around at the aquarium," Lundy said. "But they're definitely happy to see our guests coming back.
After it closed for nearly three months due to the coronavirus, the aquarium reopened at limited capacity in June. Currently, only the outdoor exhibits remain open to the public.
"The aquarium has been severely impacted from COVID-19 and we don't stop caring for the animals," said Vice President of Development Ryan Ashton. "That's why the support from our community is so important during this time."
Here's how the community can give back. The aquarium's annual fundraiser, Sea Fare, will be held virtually.
"We've been putting together an online program that everyone at home will be have the opportunity to experience for free," Ashton said.
According to Ashton, the free, live streamed event takes place on Saturday, Oct. 17 and will feature aquarium staff and residents, including sea otters, penguins and more.
In addition, the event will include a silent auction which starts Oct. 14, where participants can bid on items like VIP encounters, tours and artwork painted by sea lions and other animals.
Ashton said the aquarium hopes to raise at least $100,000, which will fund animal care and education and conservation efforts.
"We want to do everything that we can to protect these guys out in their natural habitat as well as making sure they're happy here at the aquarium," said Lundy.
For more information, visit seafare.org.