We were recently invited down to the Mediterraneo Marine Park in Baħar iċ-Ċagħaq to check out what the place has on offer. From swimming with the dolphins to learning about animal safety; here’s what we saw.
Throughout the park, you can see several Animal Carers, Marine Biologists and Vets checking up on the animals and even just hanging out with the creatures that they work with every day
Set up as an edutainment park aimed at teaching families about marine life, reptiles and birds, an array of beautiful creatures such as bottlenose dolphins, Patagonian sea lions, green-wing Amazons and Macaws are tended to by a staff that is truly passionate about animals. The park hosts a variety of different animals ranging from dolphins to lizards and everything in between.
Mediterraneo Marine Park’s slogan is Education, Emotion, and Fun
Speaking to the park’s environmentalist/general-manager about the idea behind the park, it becomes clear that they opened Mediterraneo Park, Malta’s only marine park, as a way to offer families a way to learn about exotic animals by interacting with the animals in question on location.
Situated on the island’s East Coast and open all year round, the park specialises in unique controlled ‘interactions’, all while giving visitors important information about the animals they’re meeting.
You can hang out with the animals
The team at the park stray away from painful and stressful activities, but rather prefer to let the animals lead the way. They took us around the large aviary and introduced us to all the different birds living there. We got to hold the birds, including some super colourful Macaw parrots, as we were taught about how they’re kept, their personality traits and their living environments.
We also visited the reptile house that hosts a diverse collection of snakes, lizards, and spiders, as well as a few turtles and tortoises. And then, it was time to meet the dolphins.
The dolphin and sea lion interactions come in three separate events; a presentation, interaction and the dolphin swim. Working under strict international guidelines, Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Flora and Fauna, (C.I.T.E.S), the team refuses to allow any human behaviour that may harm the animals.
When it comes to the dolphin swim, you enter a large pool with a dolphin swimming around
At first, you stand on an underwater platform while a dolphin swims by you, eventually allowing you to touch the creature gently. Under the care of a professional animal carer, you’ll then be taught hand signals to communicate with the dolphin.
Dolphins are very intelligent and social creatures
And Mediterraneo Marine Park says it prides itself on keeping families of dolphin together. They have two brother dolphins, Ninu and Cha both born at the park and each eight years old, as well as a mother and her new six-month baby son.
The Park’s focus on social and family ties, combined with attention, cleanliness, exercise and lots of good food means they do their utmost to allow the animals to live comfortably – even if they aren’t in their natural habitat.
And seriously, being taught to recycle by an intelligent dolphin is quite the experience
During the animal presentations offered throughout the day, the animal carers take the time to teach you about the anatomy of the species, their nutrition, their social lives and other interesting information.
The animals are part of the education, joining in with the animal carers to emphasise certain points.
A highlight of the dolphin presentation is when two of the creatures literally remove plastic and trash from their pool, teaching families and children about the importance of not throwing litter into the seas.
The animal carers explained that they teach the animals their routines through positive reinforcement, using cuddles and food to train the animals and create a fun, safe, stressless and educational routine.
You can interact with the massive 15-year-old Patagonian male sea lion, Junior, who was born and bred in Malta.
The Park offers a variety of stunning animals, some of which include interacting with the animals in a safe, protected setting.
You can also feed and interact with some colourful birds such as macaws, and even get up and close with some rare and impressive reptiles and amphibians like snakes and toads. And if you’ve never seen a Coati, now’s your chance – they have an entire enclosure dedicated to the little critters.
If you’d like to get close and personal, you can actually become an Animal Carer for a day
If you are passionate about animals and want to develop your skills and knowledge in the area of animal husbandry or the study of animals, you can join the team as an Animal Carer for a day.
You can choose to work with dolphins, sea lions, or birds and reptiles.
During the day, you’ll learn all about the nutrition, nurture and care involved in the species you choose, and you’ll be up close with a beautiful specimen like never before.
Whether you want to learn more about marine animals, educate your children about how to treat their fellow animals and not litter, the Mediterraneo Marine Park is a truly unique option in Malta.
For more information about the park and what they have on offer check out their website.