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New gray seal, Della, arrives at Aquarium of Niagara

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Fri, Jan 29th 2016 09:35 am
Della with Aquarium of Niagara trainer Tammy Weber.
Della with Aquarium of Niagara trainer Tammy Weber.

The Aquarium of Niagara is proud to welcome Della, a 25-year-old gray seal from the Brookfield Zoo in Chicago.

All of the marine mammals at the Aquarium of Niagara are rescue animals with unique tales. Della, who is blind, likewise has a compelling story.

Mark Gonka, lead keeper at the Brookfield Zoo, accompanied Della on her journey to Niagara Falls. He worked with her daily in Chicago to help acclimate to her surroundings.

"Because Della is blind, her trainers are basically her eyes," Gonka said. "She's very trusting and she knows that, with us guiding her, she'll never swim into a wall. She loves rubdowns and, as you can probably tell from her size, she also loves food.

"Della was definitely a staff favorite at Brookfield, but I know she'll fit in very nicely with the seals at the Aquarium of Niagara."

Aquarium of Niagara Assistant Supervisor of Marine Mammals Tammy Weber has been working with Della daily since she arrived in December.

"I think Della's hearing is acute, because she can't rely on her sight," Weber said. "Della needs to respond to tactile or verbal cues instead of hand gestures, and she follows verbal prompts without hesitation."

The Aquarium of Niagara is one of less than 10 facilities in North America that cares for gray seals. Della is a real inspiration for children and adults alike. Visit Della at her new home at the Aquarium of Niagara, 701 Whirlpool St., Niagara Falls.

The Aquarium of Niagara is committed to integrating conservation and awareness of its aquatic ecosystems into every visitor's life. The venue is open 9 a.m. each day.

For more information, contact Ilene Strober at 716-285-3575, ext. 203, or email [email protected].

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