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Encounters

Mystic Aquarium is a pioneer in offering guests a variety of up close animal encounters.

Ever imagine getting so close you can feel a beluga’s breath on your skin? Or hear a penguin’s heartbeat? Feel the slippery flipper of a seal or sea lion?

Whether you’re an aspiring marine biologist, an adventure seeker or simply a big fan, maybe even something in-between, Mystic Aquarium animal encounters are for you!

And, they’re meaningful for us too! Not only do these unique experiences offer enrichment to our animal ambassadors, they also help us fulfill our very important mission to protect the ocean planet.

Our mission is never more engaging than through one of our many encounter programs. Whether it’s pulling on waders, donning a stethoscope or picking up a paint brush, each unique experience fosters a deeper appreciation for the animals. An appreciation that we are sure will spark a change in you to become an even stronger ocean steward.

Beluga Encounters

$179 NON-MEMBERS, $169 MEMBERS

Pull on waterproof waders and go waist-deep in the Arctic Coast exhibit to meet a beluga! Accompanied by an animal care professional during this 20 minute in-water encounter, you’ll experience what makes beluga whales so unique by directing a behavior and even touching its melon, all while gaining a deeper appreciation for this majestic species and understanding the need for change in support of its conservation.

The program beings with a classroom introduction and preparation (approx. 20 min.) and culminates with a question and answer session with our animal care professionals.

Beluga Encounter Conditions Of Participation

Encounter occurs rain or shine and is available May through October.

$99 NON-MEMBERS, $89 MEMBERS

Your feet will stay on dry land, but you’ll still be flooded with excitement during Whales Up Close.  From behind a 3’ clear partition, join an animal care professional at the Arctic Coast exhibit for a training session. This experience offers a unique perspective of animal care while providing insight on beluga whale biology, conservation and research.  Plus, get tips from the pros on how to get the most of your experience – you never know, you just might see a ‘squid slurp.’

Restrictions: Must be at least six years old; ages 6-12 must be accompanied by paying, participating, adult. Guests are required to wear a personal flotation device for the duration of their program.

Whales up Close Conditions Of Participation

Encounter occurs rain or shine and is available May through October.

$139 NON-MEMBERS, $129 MEMBERS

The one-of-a-kind masterpiece should not be your greatest take away from this experience. Instead, the knowledge you will gain from engaging in this unique and important enrichment activity will undoubtedly change your view on the importance of world-class animal care. Hold your personal canvas over the Arctic Coast partition while learning about beluga whale biology, animal care, conversation, research and more.

Restrictions: Must be at least 13 years old to participate in program. Guests are required to wear a personal flotation device for the duration of their program.

Paint with a Whale Conditions Of Participation

Encounter occurs rain or shine and is available May through October.

Paint with a whale

Penguin Encounters

$79 NON-MEMBERS, $69 MEMBERS

Your spirit will soar when you meet the flightless African penguin and your heart will melt when you hear the plight of this engaging endangered species.  During this 60-minute program, one of our penguin trainers will describe these remarkable birds and their history; highlighting the world-class they receive here at the Aquarium.

In this group setting, you will enjoy an up-close encounter that will leave you with wonderful memories and the inspiration to do more to help in African penguin conservation efforts.

Restrictions: Must be at least six years old; ages 6-12 must be accompanied by a paying participating, adult.

Penguin Encounter Conditions Of Participation

Encounter occurs rain or shine and is available year round.

$119 NON-MEMBERS, $109 FOR MEMBERS

Enjoy an exclusive opportunity to meet an endangered African penguin and learn about animal care from our world-class penguin trainers! The Roger Tory Peterson Penguin Pavilion is among the most popular exhibits here at Mystic Aquarium – take this opportunity to experience the sights, sounds and smells behind the scenes; see the nesting room, gain a glimpse of daily care activities and more.

You’ll not only feel feathers but also inspiration to do more to endangered African penguins!

Restrictions: Must be at least six years old; ages 6-12 must be accompanied by paying, participating adult; must be able to climb stairs.

Penguins Up Close Conditions Of Participation

Encounter occurs rain or shine and is available year round.

 
Penguin encounter

Sea Lion Encounters

$119 NON-MEMBERS, $109 MEMBERS

During this up-close encounter, you’ll not only meet one of our resident California sea lions during a 20-minute private training session under the guidance of one of our animal care professionals! This approximately 45-minute program includes an exclusive guided tour of the Foxwoods Marine Theater. Discover each of our rescued sea lion’s unique stories and gain an understanding of training programs, animal biology and natural history plus current conservation issues and how you can help make a difference.

Restrictions: Must be at least eight years old; ages 8-12 must be accompanied by a paying participating adult. Maximum of two guests per encounter.

Seals up Close Conditions Of Participation

Encounter occurs rain or shine and is available January through April, November and December

$25 NON-MEMBERS, $20 MEMBERS

While ocean conservation is always in the spotlight here at Mystic Aquarium, during this exciting encounter program, you’ll be able to share the limelight with one of our incredible California sea lion species ambassadors.  And, although a VIP seat has been reserved just for you – our special guest – you won’t need it for long!

Join our team of animal care professionals in highlighting critical conservation initiatives during one of the live Foxwoods Marine Theater shows.  Step on stage with a California sea lion and its trainer to showcase a behavior important in the animal’s healthcare and enrichment.

HIGHLIGHTS:

  • Enjoy VIP seats and be a star during a live California Sea Lion Show
  • Direct an important animal behavior
  • Help share vital conservation messaging with up to 1,000 audience members
  • Learn about sea lion biology, conservation, research and more
  • Commemorate the moment with a photo on your phone or camera

Restrictions: Children must be at least 8 years old to participate. Guests are required to wear a personal flotation device during the duration of their program. To ensure guest safety during the animal encounter, Mystic Aquarium staff will first discuss safety protocols with program participants. An Aquarium staff member will at all times be responsible for monitoring guest conduct and behavior.

Sea Lion Spotlight Conditions Of Participation

Seal Encounters

$119 NON-MEMBERS, $109 MEMBERS

This encounter program will seal the deal for fans of the phocids in our Pacific Northwest habitat! During this up-close and personal encounter, you’ll enjoy exclusive access to one of our resident harbor seals. The 40-minute program allows for interaction with these captivating creatures and the animal care experts who care for them. Get to know more about our beloved harbor seals including their natural history and adaptations, animal care and enrichment training and current conservation issues.

Restrictions: Must be at least six years old; ages 6-12 must be accompanied by paying, participating adult. Guests are required to wear a personal flotation device during the duration of their program. To ensure guest safety during the animal encounter, Mystic Aquarium staff will first discuss safety protocols with program participants. An Aquarium staff member will at all times be responsible for monitoring guest conduct and behavior.

Seals up Close Conditions Of Participation

Encounter occurs rain or shine and is available May through October.

$139 NON-MEMBERS, $129 MEMBERS

You don’t have to be an aficionado of abstract art to add one of these masterpieces to you collection! During a seal painting session, trainers will introduce participants to one of our resident harbor seals and, together, you and the seal will create a one-of-a-kind piece of artwork.  As part of our commitment to animal care, our seals have been trained to paint using a non-toxic product (much like children’s finger paints). Just like humans, animals benefit from a variety of stimuli. Painting with our animals is just one way that Mystic Aquarium helps ensure an enriching and stimulating environment. It is a great opportunity to learn more about our local seal species and their habitat as well as ways guests can help with the conservation of marine mammals.

Restrictions: Must be at least 13 years old to participate in the program. Maximum of two guests per encounter.

Paint with a Seal Conditions Of Participation

Encounter occurs rain or shine and is available May through September.

Paint with a seal

Paint with a Stingray

$50 NON-MEMBERS, $40 MEMBERS

Celebrate the excitement of your visit and your admiration of our species ambassadors with a unique memento from the Paint with a Stingray program.  Achieve a better understanding of stingrays and their natural behaviors all while providing them with various stimuli. Step into the Ray Touch Tent and help our aquarists during a private feeding and enrichment session. During this interactive experience, you’ll use a unique process devised by a team of world-class animal care professionals. By simply feeding a stingray part of its daily diet, you’ll help provide important enrichment for the animal while creating a one-of-a-kind work of art for yourself.

Restrictions: Must be at least six years old to participate in the painting portion of encounter; ages 6-12 must be accompanied by paying, participating adult. Children five years old and under can enter and watch the program but cannot participate in the painting portion.

Paint with a Stingray Conditions Of Participation

Encounter occurs rain or shine and is available year round.

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cownose ray

Trainer for a Day

$389 NON-MEMBERS, $379 MEMBERS (INCLUDES AQUARIUM ADMISSION)

Can’t decide which are your favorite – African penguins, beluga whales, harbor seals or California sea lions? Meet them all when you enjoy a day in the life of a marine animal trainer alongside our world-class animal care professionals!

During this extended encounter program, meet species ambassadors, explore behind the scenes and gain a new appreciation for animal care.  Learn what it takes to be a marine animal trainer specializing in the care of African penguins, beluga whales, seals and sea lions through hands-on, side-by-side training sessions.

From 1:00pm – 4:30pm

Trainer for a Day Conditions Of Participation

Encounter occurs rain or shine and is available May through October.

Trainer and guest with penguins

Proposing?

Surprise your true love with a memorable marriage proposal at Mystic Aquarium. There are several packages to choose from; all tailor-made to create a memory to treasure for a lifetime.

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