“It was great because we landed at our own Niagara Falls Air Force base,” Humphrey said.
Jester made for a calm traveler, relaxing in his cage while being constantly sprayed by his human traveling companions to keep cool.
After arriving, Jester made a fast, easy transition into life at Niagara Falls.
“He’s a very easy-going animal. He has never shown any aggression,” Humphrey said. “He had a great introduction to the aquarium, he works well with and trusts all the trainers, he’s really just a great animal.”
Others at the aquarium were happy to welcome Jester into the fold.
“It’s a great opportunity to have the Navy select us to allow Jester to come here,” said Director of Development Gay Molnar. While wild sea lions are expected to live only 15-18 years, those in captivity usually live to be anywhere from 25-35 years, making Jester a long-term addition. “We’re looking forward to many wonderful years and hope people come down to welcome our new sea lion,” Molnar said.
Already he has moved into the main tank with his three new roommates, Squirt, Julie and Diamond, each of which were also born in captivity.
“It’s very different from what he’s used to, he’s never had girlfriends before,” joked Humphrey. “In San Diego, he lived in a smaller ocean pen with fish swimming in and out, but he wasn’t comfortable in the open water. Here with the people and all his new toys he seems much more at home.”
For now, he’s performing in training shows once a week.
“At first he was a little nervous, the clapping is something new to him,” Humphrey said. “There’s lots of new sounds, and he just needs to adjust. Over winter break there were a lot of children here, and he got a nice warm welcome. They’re happy to see a new face in the crowd, and already he acts like he’s been here forever.”
Jester generally has seven to eight training sessions each day, lasting from 5-10 minutes apiece. His stint in the Navy has taught him two unique tricks that his fellow sea lions cannot do.
“He has been taught how to wear a harness, as he would for diving missions, and he has been taught how to salute,” Humphrey said. “We tell the audiences he learned that in the Navy.”