Corky

Corky the harbor seal was the consummate performer and a show favorite for 20 years.
  • 1970s
  • 1990s

Corky eagerly participated in shows each day, and surprised his trainers with his adaptability and enthusiasm. His high-speed wiggle across the stage and sputtering gargling vocals made him the perfect comic foil to the agile sea lions. His energetic, graceful moves enchanted audiences and Corky had many admirers. His deep bond of trust with his trainers made it possible for him to visit television news sets, where he dazzled viewers during special animal segments. 

When he developed cataracts later in life, his trainers changed the way they worked with him. Instead of following hand signals, Corky quickly learned to use his senses of sound and touch, responding to foot taps and verbal cues from his trainers. At show time, Corky never needed to be invited to participate. Vocalizing loudly, he would rattle the gate to his pen with his flipper to let the trainers know it was his turn to be onstage.

Blindness didn’t stop Corky from doing what he wished. Once, he slipped out of his pen to find the keepers he heard talking in the building. Wending his way through a maze of hallways and dead-ends, without the benefit of sight, he finally made it to where they were. It was a navigation feat that might have stumped a human!

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