Sea Lion Show Makes Big Return Splash at Fair


Opening day of the Great Geauga County Fair welcomed a surge of excitement and oceans of fun Thursday afternoon on the midway stage during the return of the Sea Lion Splash show.

Opening day of the Great Geauga County Fair welcomed a surge of excitement and oceans of fun Thursday afternoon on the midway stage during the return of the Sea Lion Splash show.

Families gathered early on the risers nibbling on an array of favorite fair food, as children swirled around toting balloon animals in anticipation for the splashing return of the fair-favorite show.

“Everyday offers exciting entertainment,” said fair Director Dave Parker.

Sea Lion trainer Suzy Bartholo, of Capital International Productions, practiced with her two sea lion stars, Lily and Zoey, as the nearly 30-minute show began with a steady stream of audience-members of all ages gathering behind the giant pools of water in anticipation for some entertainment, education and comedy.

“We are super excited to once again be having the opportunity to work at the Great Geauga County Fair,” Bartholo said. “This time, we have Lily and Zoey with us, and I’m sure you’ll love meeting these girls.”

The show is the only traveling, self-contained sea lion show in the United States where audiences can see close up how sea lions react in a natural setting, learn how they act in the wild and how they can be preserved, as well as the only show in the United States to feature both Californian and South American sea lions.

Sea lions are known for their intelligence and being very social, according to AZ Animals. They have often been called the “Angels of the Sea” due to the unique way they move under water using their hind flippers to steer and their front flippers to swim.

Energizing, pulse-pumping music blasted from the speakers as audience members whooped and hollered at the entrance of the two sea lion stars.

“We have an educational show and we are going to talk about recycling, differences between a seal and sea lion, and these girls will show you some natural behaviors,” Bartholo said. “And, of course, how to balance the ball on their nose.”

Seals and sea lions have several visible differences.

Sea lions have external ear flaps, whereas a majority of seals have a small opening for an ear and lack an external ear flap, according to Dolphin Research Center, adding a flexible pelvic girdle enables sea lions to move more easily on land by rotating their hind flippers underneath their bodies and walking like other four-legged animals. To move on land, seals propel their streamlined bodies in a way similar to a caterpillar.

“Now, when you come to see a sea lion show, you expect to see them balance a ball on their nose, right?” Bartholo said. “Clap, scream and make some noise.”

Participants applauded as the sea lion duo balanced balls on their noses, performed handstands and wowed the crowd with their smiles.

“They’re super smart and they have super different personalities. If you spend some time watching them, you’ll see how much Lily loves attention and how Zoey likes to peek over the top of the pool, but my favorite part about them is those little ears are so cute,” Bartholo said.

She said they are on tour with the show until November and will return in February 2024.

“Our next stop is Tennessee,” she added.

Following the show, families gathered to take pictures with the sea lion stars.

“If you’re lucky, maybe you’ll get a kiss from Zoey,” Bartholo said.




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