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|Chessington's Pebbles sent to Spanish coast|
- Sunshine retirement on Costa Blanca for park's much-loved sealion
ONE OF Chessington Zoo's most-loved animals has flown off to Spain for a well-earned retirement.
Pebbles (pictured), a member of the Surrey attraction's performing Californian sealions troupe, will spend the rest of her days on the Costa Blanca in Mundomar Marine and Exotic Animal Park, Benidorm.
At 22, the animal still has a good few year's left in her and will become part of a breeding set in the Spanish park, say her keepers. She will be joined by her friend Ursa, 15 who sets off from Chessington in three weeks.
Together the pair have bred 20 pups from their mate 'Bonking Boris' who at 27 - or 100 in human years - is soon to put his own flippers up too.
"The departure of Pebbles and Ursa means that we can now also focus on developing a bigger and more exciting sealion show for our guests."
Pebbles' departure yesterday (30 January 2007) involved careful planning and preparation. Animal Trainer Gary Jones joined her on the journey to ensure she settles in well in her new home.
Will Elgar, Head of Presentations told LondonNet "Transporting live animals is always quite complicated. The safety and well-being of Pebbles is obviously our main concern, and we have spent many hours training her to voluntarily get into and out of the crate to ensure she is comfortable with the situation."
"Her main trainer, Gary will also be accompanying her to Spain to ensure she gets settled in ok."
Maria Hamilton, Chessington's Public Relations' Manager told us "They will be transported in crates via plane to Alicante. Basically, our Animal Trainer Gary Jones has been training Pebbles up for weeks to get her to voluntarily go into a crate and stay there".
"Once she is in she will be lifted out and taken to the airport. Gary will travel with her and stay with her in Spain for a few days to make sure she settles in ok".
The retirements coincide with the arrival of a new young male sealion called Hogan, who comes to Chessington from Belfast Zoo. Together with Harley, Ocean and last year’s pups Boston and Dante he will entertain the crowds at Chessington in a brand new sealion show.
"We are very excited about welcoming Hogan to our group,” says Will Elgar.
“Having such a young and dynamic group of sealions means we can train some amazing new behaviours that will entertain both the sealions and our visitors. It also means we can offer some fun behind-the-scenes packages where guests can actually meet our sealions and learn more about how and why they are trained."
Chessington Zoo will be open daily from 10am to 3pm between 10-25 February for a special 'Springtime In The Zoo' event. Tickets cost UKP6 adults and UKP5 for children (under 12). The main theme park re-opens on Saturday 24th March, with its endearing blend of rides, animal encounters and live shows.
LondonNet's Chessington Feature
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